Monday, September 3, 2012

Russian half

  In Russian language we use пол- in the same way as semi- and half- are used in English. It originates from половина («a half»). There are many words that start with пол-, such as:

полчаса - half an hour
полтора - one and a half
полпути - halfway
полдороги - halfway
полдень - noon (literally «half-day»)

Instead of пол- we sometimes use полу-. The meaning is the same. I'm not sure why some words have пол- and others полу-, to be honest. Maybe because it sounds better in those words?

полумесяц - half moon, crescent
полуночный - midnight (adj.)
полуторачасовой - hour and a half long
полувековой - semicentennial
получасовой - half-hour long
полуденный - midday (adj.)
полумрак - twilight, semidarkness

If after пол- we have a vowel or л, the word will have a hyphen:

пол-лимона - half of a lemon
пол-литра - half of litre
пол-лекции - half of the lecture
пол-урока - half of the lesson

The hyphen also comes when the next part of the word is a proper noun (starts with a capital letter):

пол-России - half of Russia
пол-Африки - half of Africa

If there are a few words, пол- is written separately:

пол моей зарплаты - half of my salary
пол учебного года - half of the school year.

полу- is always written together, without hyphens.

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