Here a switch has been added to control an existing receptacle. The switch takes the hot from the middle receptacles. With this arrangement, all the other receptacles are wired directly to the hot source and the switch controls the middle outlet.
Lamp cords are usually one color, making the standard black-hot, white-neutral guidelines useless for determining polarity. Other methods are therefore used to determine the polarity on a lamp cord. Check the insulation on the cord wires closely and you will find either a textured bead or a thin colored line running along one wire, this is the neutral.
The neutral and ground wires for the circuit are connected to a bar along the side of the service panel box. The neutral and grounding bars in the box may be separate or, in the case of older service panels, the same bar may be used for both purposes.
Here 3-wire cable serves a split receptacle. The bottom half of the receptacle is controlled by a switch and the top half is always-hot.