Language tip of the week: half

Posted by on October 03, 2013

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryFollowing our short series of Back to school trick and tips, the weekly language tips return.

In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are usually based on areas of English which learners find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc.

This week’s language tip helps with the word half:

Don’t use a or the before half or half of:
✗ Nearly a half of the programmes included advertising.
✓ Nearly half of the programmes included advertising.
✗ Girls constitute the half of the population of universities.
✓ Girls constitute half of the population of universities.

You can use the definite article (the) before half with an adjective such as first, second, or next when you are referring to something that has been mentioned before:
The second half of the film is not as good as the first.
The movement gathered impetus during the next half century.

When half forms part of a number, the most common structure is one and a half, two and a half, three and a half etc.
✗ Tourists can visit any of these sites within one and half hours.
✓ Tourists can visit any of these sites within one and a half hours.
✗ They made us wait for two hours and a half for our visa.
✓ They made us wait two and a half hours for our visa.

Always use a plural noun in this structure:
✗ A 90-minute film might last two and a half hour with commercials.
✓ A 90-minute film might last two and a half hours with commercials.

More language tips

Browse the list under the ‘language tips‘ tag here on the blog for more useful language tips.

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