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Which one is correct in English?

  • Half year,
  • half years, or
  • half a year?

Example sentences, where HY is one of the above:

  1. HY ago he had a job.
  2. After HY he finally found a job.

Note, that half year vs. half-year can be answered from a dictionary:

Pre-tax profits in the half year surged to £73 million. (Half year is a noun.)

The bank's half-year earnings rose 214% [...]. (Half-year is an adjective.)

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  • Half a year is less than one year, so why would you use the plural? Commented Jan 26 at 18:42
  • @KateBunting It is "0.5 years" and even "zero years", so that rule may need adjustment
    – Henry
    Commented Jan 26 at 21:15
  • 1
    @Henry, in my experience it should really be "0.5 of a year". You can leave out "of" when it is the word "half" or vulgar fraction 1/2. You would use the plural when it is more than 1. However more modern practice appears to be to use the plural for any decimal, including 1.0.
    – Peter
    Commented Jan 27 at 1:00
  • Please undo your downvotes. The question was edited since when you downvoted it. Thanks for one person who did this already.
    – Dr. Gut
    Commented Feb 5 at 17:37
  • You may have a hard time getting the attention of the people who already voted on your question with a comment. You could post on English Language Learners Meta and ask people to take another look or give you feedback on how to earn their upvote.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Feb 5 at 18:07

1 Answer 1

3

Half year is correct. It is a half year, or half a year so singular.

Usage without the a:

The half year earnings of the company went up (better written with a hyphen: half-year)

The first half year of an infant's life...

Usage with an a:

In the following sentences I would always use half a year; disclaimer: I am not a native English speaker

Half a year ago something happened.

After half a year he finally found a job.

Alternative is using Six months ago... which solves the issue of the a

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  • 1
    "Half a year ago" is much better than "a half year ago". I would be inclined to use a hyphen for the latter, i.e. "a half-year ago. "Three half-years ago" makes sense, but "three half years ago" doesn't really.
    – Peter
    Commented Jan 26 at 14:31
  • I would ALWAYS use half a year ago until I read the cambridge entry
    – mplungjan
    Commented Jan 26 at 15:19

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