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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|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''?|