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I can't figure out the noun which is referring to in the sentence below, percentage or users, and thus don't know if the verb "amount to" should be plural or singular.

50 percent of internet users (which amount to 60 percent of the world population) say that...

To my ear, it should be amounts to as the verb is referring to the percentage, which is uncountable. However, in the original text, it was singular, and could easily be referring to internet users, could it not? In which case, the above sentence would be correct as a singular.

Thoughts?

  • I'd say it should be "which amounts to" or "who amount to", and would favour the latter. – Max Williams Jan 30 '18 at 10:40
  • There is nothing that grammar help. This can be parsed both ways: "[50 percent of internet users] [(which amount to 60 percent of the world population)]" as perfectly as "[50 percent of] [internet users (which amount to 60 percent of the world population)]". However, the use of "amount to" suggests that the reference is to "[50 percent of]". Please note the obvious fallacy here: half the internet users constitute more than half the world population, hmm... it just doesn't add up, haha. So naturally, "internet users" is the subject. – Kris Jan 30 '18 at 11:25
  • I think that is what is driving me crazy about the line. 60 percent must, therefore, be refering to the users, not the percentage. In which case, I would agree with Max that it should read "who amount to", with a suggestion to change the sentence entirely. – freeform23 Jan 30 '18 at 11:39
  • It sounds clumsy. << 50 percent of internet users (who make up 60 percent of the world population) ... > – Edwin Ashworth Jan 30 '18 at 12:21
  • The 'NP of NP' form is usually possessive. In this example it is functioning as a determiner: more like the form 'number + noun'. – Ross Murray Jan 30 '18 at 19:24
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This may be a question of mathematics.

50 percent of internet users (which amount to 60 percent of the world population) say that...

If which would refer to 50 percent of internet users, I would really start wondering about those internet users that do not live one earth!

If 50% of internet users amounts to 60% of the world population, then 100% of internet users would amount to 120% of the world population. Seeing as the world only has 100% population, there must be some 1.4 billion internet users elsewhere...

The sentence is probably meant as it is written: only(?) 60% of the world population uses internet, and 50% of those say something. The part in parentheses is simply there to remind the reader that 50% of internet users only(?) reflects 30% of the world population.

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