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Should I use

What fraction of the residents are married?

or

What fraction of the residents is married?

Technically, as fraction is singular, I would use the latter version. Am I correct?

  • This is often a tough one. I would go for "are" above, but "is" in other contexts, and I can't give you a "rule". – Hot Licks Feb 25 '15 at 12:58
  • It would also be more usual to ask what percentage of the residents are married. And there I would always use are. – WS2 Feb 25 '15 at 13:01
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    I assume the rule of thumb is that if the "amount" probably resolves to "more than one" then the plural is used. If you know in advance the answer can only be singular then the question would be "Which one of the residents is married". – Marv Mills Feb 25 '15 at 13:03
  • "are" -- "is" in the example sounds strange, like some sort of hypercorrection. The reason it's "are" is not clear to me -- perhaps it's because the subject could refer to many people. "Approximately two people have left" (subject is plural though it could refer to one person) – Greg Lee Feb 25 '15 at 13:37
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    The duplicate @tchrist referenced gives a definitive answer to this question: are in this context and in most others. – ScotM Feb 25 '15 at 14:05
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No doubt, it should be 'are'. Fraction is not commonly used in the mathematical sense ('technically' refers to 'mathematically'). For eg, A small fraction of voters will abstain from voting due to the boycott call. It can be seen in other usages as well - http://www.azadvocacy.org/press-a-media/media/253-just-a-fraction-of-voters-meet-id-deadline - Just a Fraction of Voters Meet I.D. Deadline. (not 'meets' if we want to use 'singular').

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  • In the example with voters you provide, nothing indicates whether a plural or singular is used. – Skumin Sep 22 '17 at 10:50

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