Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/119

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Errors in English

I?" "hasn't he? "are acceptable in conversation. But when the subject precedes in the first person singular and the plural, it is preferable to abbreviate the verb; as, "I've not," "you've not," etc.

half: Inasmuch as in equivalent terms of the whole there can not be a single half, but must be two halves, one should speak of dividing (the whole) into two or into halves rather than of cutting (it) in half.

half-cock, to go off at: A colloquial phrase denoting "to speak before one is ready"; not used by persons accustomed to refined diction.

handful: This word has for a plural handfuls. "Two handfuls of flour" means a handful taken twice, whereas hands full means both hands full. This last term is often erroneously written handsful.

handy: Properly said of articles on which one may lay the hand, or possibly of persons, as attendants, ready at hand for service. Applied to neighborhood, "near," "near by," "close at hand," or the like are to be preferred.

hang: This verb has for its perfect tense and past participle two forms, hanged and hung; but in the sense of execution (sus per col), the former term is alone correctly used, whereas in other senses the latter is applied. Thus, one may say, "A hat is hung on a peg, but a murderer is hanged on the gallows," and not that the hat is hanged nor that the murderer is hung.