“Half An Hour” vs. “Half Hour”: Which Is More Correct? (Important Facts)

30 minutes has two main synonyms. The first one is “half an hour” and the other is “a half hour”. But which one is correct?

“Half An Hour” vs. “Half Hour”: Which Is More Correct?

Both “half an hour” and “a half hour” are grammatically correct. However, “a half hour” is more commonly used as an adjective. “It’s a half-hour show”. But “half an hour” is usually a noun. “Please wait for half an hour”.

"Half An Hour" vs. "Half Hour": Which Is More Correct?

Why Do We Say “A Half” But “An Hour”?

First, of all, it’s time to dispel a myth that your English teacher probably taught you.

At school, you were probably taught that words that began with A, E, I, O and U used “an”. But words that began with a consonant began with “a”.

But, here’s the dilemma with that.

Both “half” and “hour” begin with the letter H. Yet we say “an hour” but “a half”.

The reason for this is that the “A vs AN” rule is not based upon letters but sounds. The reason we say “an hour” is that “hour” sounds like “our”.

“Half An Hour” Is More Popular Than “A Half Hour”

One way to determine the “correct” way to say something is to see which is more popular. Something being unpopular does not mean it’s wrong. It does however mean that the alternative is more likely to be correct.

According to Google Ngrams, “half an hour” is significantly more popular. It’s fair to say that “half an hour” is 100% a grammatically correct phrase.

half an hour vs a half hour historical development

However, even though “a half hour” is not used as often, it’s still more popular today than it used to be. As language changes, there is potential for it to take over.

Situations Where “A Half Hour” Is Better Than “Half An Hour”

There is one situation where it could be better to use “a half hour” than “half an hour”. And that is when you’re using the idea of 30 minutes as an adjective.

In case you need reminding, an adjective is a descriptive term. Usually, when we use “a half-hour” to describe, we’re talking about a task, or piece of performance.

For example, I might say “It’s a half-hour film” instead of “it’s a film that lasts for half an hour”.

I might also say “this is only a half-hour task. I should be free in a bit”.

5 Examples Of “Half An Hour”

  1. “I should be about half an hour. I still have to iron my outfit, do my hair, and take the bins out”

  2. “You have only been waiting for half an hour. Shut up. Stop being impatient.”

  3. “The new film is on in half an hour. I’ll make sure to get back home as soon as I can so I don’t miss any of it”

  4. “I waited for the bus for half an hour. When it finally came, I had to stand because it was so full”.

  5. “Just walk for half an hour a day. Then, you’ll be on track to lose weight”.

4 Examples Of “A Half Hour”

  1. “It’s a half-hour film, and it stars Ryan Reynolds. So of course, I’m going to go and watch it on my lunch break”.

  2. “This is a half-hour task. When you finish it, you are free to go into the forest or do whatever else you want to”.

  3. “The problem is it’s a half-hour podcast. So it’s too long for a quick listen, but not long enough to put in the background while I do a long task”.

  4. “The half-hour show that was on last night was really good. It was about why robots might take over the world”.

General Q&A About “Half An Hour” And “A Half-hour”

  • Do I hyphenate Should it be “half-hour” or “half hour”?
    It’s up to you. Generally, people do hyphenate when using it as an adjective because the two words are acting like one.

  • What is half an hour in time?
    There are a few ways of phrasing it. ½ an hour. 0.5 hours. 30 minutes. 1800 seconds. Or even 1.8e+6 milliseconds.

  • Why do people say “half an hour”instead of “half of an hour”?
    Because it’s easier. Why say more words than you need to?


And there we have all of the main differences between “half an hour” and “a half hour”. Both of them are grammatically correct, but there are some situations when one might make more sense to use than the other.

With that being said, I hope you’ve gotten use out of this article and you’ll feel more confident next time you want to use either of them.

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