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Subject: 'half' vs. 'quarter'
Question: Hello,

In my perception, there are some cases where the words ''half'' and
''quarter'' can be interchanged without otherwise changing a
sentence:

I ran for a half hour. (OK; some might hyphenate as ''half-hour'')
I ran for a quarter hour. (OK; some might hyphenate as ''quarter-
hour'')

I ran for a half of an hour. (OK, though somewhat unusual)
I ran for a quarter of an hour. (OK)

But in other cases, such an exchange is not possible:

I ran for half of an hour. (OK)
*I ran for quarter of an hour. (ungrammatical)

I ran for half an hour. (OK)
*I ran for quarter an hour. (ungrammatical)

I ran for a half an hour. (OK, if mainly in spoken language)
I ran for a quarter an hour. (this seems to mean ''I was paid $0.25/hr
to run'' rather than ''I ran for 15 minutes'')

What is a linguistic explanation for this difference in the behavior of
''half'' and ''quarter''?

From: Mike Morrison
Date: 15-Sep-2012
Replies:
  1. Re: 'half' vs. 'quarter'    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (17-Sep-2012)

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