Does a percentage require a singular or plural verb, for example, do we say ten percent "go" or "goes"?

  • You can make a test case out of the word "half", in that "half" is equivalent to "50%", and may be easier to find examples for. – James Sep 12 '15 at 16:52
  • @James But '.5 of the population are over 40' doesn't sound too idiomatic. One has to be careful when assuming seemingly identical structures will behave the same way. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 24 '17 at 20:22

It depends on the item/items to which the percentage refers. When discussing something numerable, such as "10% of commenters," the plural would be appropriate. If something innumerable, such as "10% of the solution," then you would use the singular.

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    The same applies to common fraction usages also: 1/3 of the men are // 1/3 of the water is. But see the caveat to the answer above. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 24 '17 at 20:19
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    I don't get this. Why isn't 10 % plural? 10 is a plurality. Authoritative reference? – Toothrot Jun 11 '19 at 8:36

It depends on if the percentage is made up of units (e.g. 10% of people) or is part of a whole (e.g. 10% of the cake).

If it's made up of units, then use the plural:

Of the top 100 earners, 10% own a yacht.

If it's part of a whole, use singular

I made the pie, so 10% is mine.

In the case of a percentage of units, of them is being erased. In the case of a whole of it is being erased.

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    I'd say that it's more complex than this, at least when considered by those claiming to use logical agreement. One can find on the Internet statements like '82.5% of the population is urban' where the subset of the population, though made up of units, would almost always be considered as a whole, and singular agreement chosen. I'd want: 'It depends on whether the 'percentage' is made up of units and being considered as such, or is [being considered as a homogeneous in itself] part of a whole (whether etically count or not).' – Edwin Ashworth Oct 22 '16 at 13:53
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    Do you have an authoritative reference for this? I find it hard to accept that ten percent is mine: ten percent is the subject and a plurality. – Toothrot Jun 11 '19 at 8:42
  • @Toothrot it will take some time to pull data together – Matt E. Эллен Jun 12 '19 at 8:04

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