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If you use the term "almost all" in a sentence what percentage would you attribute to that?

Example 1: Dan at almost all of the pie. Mary had the rest.

Example 2: Almost all kids who go to college have student loans.

Just looking for expectations and an estimate. If I knew that Dan ate 90% of the pie I would just say that, but I see he at almost all of the pie but not sure the exact percentage. When I say almost all what would people think?

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  • A percentage is (quite) exact. "Almost all" is not exact, so there is no way to transform it to a percentage.
    – skymningen
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 14:36
  • I wouldn't. Percentages are used for precision. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 14:36
  • I am not looking for a defined percentage. I am thinking what are the expectations (estimate) when saying it. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 14:38
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    @cornbreadninja麵包忍者 - wouldn't that define "most". Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 14:40
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    Although this is a language question, it is not linguistic proper, but rather philosophical.
    – Talia Ford
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 14:46

1 Answer 1

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Apparently in mathematics and some sciences, almost all has a specific technical meaning as discussed here.

In common parlance, there is no set definition. Most people would not consider slightly more than half as almost all. Somewhere north of 75% is probably what could be considered applicable. Many might not consider it correct unless the amounts were over 90% (although politicians and others who wish to shade the report of support toward their decision might claim 50.01% is almost all).

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    Re almost all, also see the latter half of my answer to a "Similar numbers" question Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 15:00
  • @jwpat7 Excellent complement. Not being knowledgeable about the technical stuff, I was loathe to summarize or select excerpts.
    – bib
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 15:14
  • @bib Many might consider your answer somewhat recursive, as it remains almost totally indeterminable what percentages of people are denoted by the "most people" and "many might".
    – Talia Ford
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 16:26
  • @TaliaFord Most people is exactly 59.7% and many might is 66.2%. I didn't want to show off. Actually, the problem is as indicated in the reason for conrnbread ninja's hold. This is very squooshy and is largley opinion based.
    – bib
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 18:05

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