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I have a question about this sentence from my grammar book. It says, Half this money is mine, and half is yours. (not the half).

Why is it wrong to use "the half" in this sentence?

Could you say, "Half this money is mine, the other half is yours."?

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  • Welcome to EL&U. We do also have a site on the stack exchange network for learning English (ELL). Try using that site if it is a question about learning English. Sep 8, 2016 at 19:51
  • I notice that you don't say "The half this money is mine..." Why don't you?
    – Sven Yargs
    Sep 8, 2016 at 19:55
  • The question would be better suited for ELL, yes, but it's grammatically interesting and I wish it had been left open here. Sep 12, 2016 at 20:16

2 Answers 2

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Picture two guys at a table. They both worked on a big job and the money was paid to them for their labor. It's a thousand dollars. It's spread out on the table in two parts.

By definition, the noun subject of the sentence, Half means one of two equal or nearly equal parts into which something can be divided--Webster's. Since we are already told in the sentence this money is half (the demonstrative pronoun pointing out that Half IS money), we know, by definition that there's another half somewhere else. The definition of Half alone tells us "half of the whole" so there's no need to point out with the article "the" either half specifically. Knowing half is five hundred dollars tells us the other half is five hundred dollars.

Half this money ($500, an equal half) is mine, and half ($500, an equal half) is yours.

Half this money is mine, and half is yours.

e.g.

I ate half of the apple, and threw half away. [apple divided into two equal parts]

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You use the half if you are specifying which half. In case of money, either half seems to have equal value, hence specifying which half (when both are equal) is unnecessary.

However, if the value of the two halves are different, and the speaker has to point out which half, then the half is an appropriate usage (In terms of land distribution).

As for "Half this money is mine, the other half is your.",

It is a right usage of the two halves. When you say half this.. you imply one of the halves by specifying which one. Hence you are specifying "the other half" belongs to the second person. However, the correct form is

"Half this money is mine, the other half is yours."

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  • Fine answer, but I'm still in the dark as to why ...the other half is yours is fine, and ...and half is yours is fine, but ...and the half is yours is so sharply wrong. I tried to answer this question several ways and gave up, so don't take this as criticism! :) Sep 8, 2016 at 16:02
  • when you use the, it implies you are pointing to something. "the half " is incomplete where as, "the other half" is a complete form. However you could use "and that half is yours" in some cases. More than this, you need someone who teaches grammar professionally. :D
    – AtulBhatS
    Sep 8, 2016 at 16:25
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    @JasonOrendorff This answer strikes me as entirely ad hoc and with no explanatory power. I don't think English grammar relies on the valuation of a partition, and as far as I can tell "complete" and "incomplete" forms are not standard terms of art. I could be convinced otherwise by evidence. I think the reason that the half is yours doesn't work in this context is that the is the definite article, and with two halves of one thing, it's impossible to pick out which is which. It's acceptable in the following though: The full order is mine, and the half is yours.
    – deadrat
    Sep 8, 2016 at 18:47

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