soccer and other team sports
What about the, well, standard construction of putting the indefinite article after "half", and using "half a" as a sort of indefinite article or determiner, like "no"? I have a suspicion that "a half hour", for example, never really was preferred to "half an hour", and that we're just following Webster in pretending the latter usage doesn't exist. Regardless of whether it did in 1913, it's the usual form now, and should be documented.
184.108.40.206 12:16, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
- Both usages exist, but in the case of "half an hour", it’s a shortening of "half of an hour". I don’t think "half a" is a separate idiom, but merely a combination of half + "(of) an hour". —Stephen 14:33, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
- Hmm. Sorry, but I don't think it's that simple; I don't think any analogous expression would allow "of" to be omitted (in fact, is there any other case in which "of" can be?). Maybe a clearer example is "half a million", in which the proposed expanded form ("half of a million") is virtually nonexistent.
- It really seems to me "half a" is a special case, and the rather shudder-worthy construction "a half a" is a regrettable result of that confusion.
- Also note that "half an hour's walk" seems unambiguous, while "half of an hour's walk" doesn't.
- 220.127.116.11 21:26, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
- In my mind, it is that simple. Half is half, and I process the following noun like a genitive. It’s similar to off (of) or out (of): he got off (of) the boat; he climbed out (of) the window. The reason "half of an hour’s walk" seems ambiguous is because that’s not how we say it. We only say "a half hour’s walk" or "half an hour’s walk". In the former, half appears to be an adjective (a half hour), and in the latter it seems like a noun that is, like off and out, is being used as a preposition. That is, I don’t think "half a" is a separate idiom, but is a sense of half plus a following noun. Besides "half a block" and "half an hour", there is also "half the pizza" and "half the apple". In other words, whatever article the following noun needs to have. —Stephen 21:52, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, but I still don't see the simplicity. You're right that some prepositions have optional "of", but I strongly assume that's because they used to go both with genitive and dative constructions.
Dictionaries appear to sometimes list half as a "predeterminer". Maybe that's the right name?
Though, since you mention it, "half" does appear to be quite equivalent to prepositions like "off" or "behind" in how it is used. Is that what you're saying? It sounds a little adventurous to me, if only because I'm not aware of related languages in which it is one.
I think we might get somewhere by looking at what Wikipedia describes as Preposition-like modifiers of quantified noun phrases, in either case.
Iagzsazoozig 06:06, 11 August 2008 (UTC)