The plain wire is the hot. If the cord isn’t marked with a bead then the strands of wire will be different colors. In these cases the silver wire is the neutral and the brass colored wire is the hot. The plug on the lamp cord holds another clue to polarity with the wide prong being the neutral and the narrow one the hot. Older lamp cord will have prongs that are the same size. This is because polarity was not observed on electric lamps until the development of grounded circuits.
These sockets have two terminals, one for the hot wire and one for the neutral. A third contact may be present but is not used for this circuit. This diagram illustrates wiring for a standard, one setting lamp. This socket has two terminals, the brass for hot and the silver for the neutral wire.
This circuit breaker wiring diagram illustrates installing a 20 amp circuit breaker for a 240 volt circuit. The 12/2 gauge cable for this circuit includes 2 conductors and 1 ground. A dedicated 20 amp circuit like this is used for heavy household appliances like an air conditioners.
This wiring diagram illustrates installing a 15 amp circuit breaker for a 120 volt circuit. The 14/2 awg cable for this circuit includes 2 conductors and 1 ground. A 15 amp circuit is usually used for wall receptacle outlets and light fixtures.