Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Percentage as plural

From the WSJ today also came this sentence:

Weeding out youngsters is critical in accurately calculating one of the valuable bits of data ShopperTrak sells -- the percentage of shoppers that buys and the percentage that only browses.

While percentage technically is singular, as Bryan Garner notes, it usually is construed as plural when followed by an "of" phrase that uses a plural object. There might be some debate here given the sentence construction (one referring indirectly to percentage). But this would sound less tinny and be more acceptable if recast to: the percentage of shoppers who buy and the percentage who only browse. (Who also is also preferable here, as it more correctly links "buy" to "shoppers" not "percentage." "Shoppers who buy" is really the complete object of the preposition.)


At 2/8/09, 3:13 PM, Blogger Zeugitai said...

How about expressing a range? For example, the humidity over a spring week varies between 49 and 59 percent. How can I express this colloquially? "The humidity was in the 50 percents?" I know this is wrong, but then, what is right? Thanks!

At 2/8/09, 5:17 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Generally it would be "The humidity was in the 50 percent range."

At 5/19/10, 6:11 AM, Blogger Will said...

Thanks, I'm writing an essay and 7,000 words in I suddenly realise that I might be getting the subject-verb agreement wrong with percentages. Alas, I was right :)


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home