Please confirm the difference between these two sentences:

Salad is the most popular dish by 43%.

Salad is the most popular dish at 43%.

Is the meaning of these two sentences same or different? (this sentence came directly from an electronic dictionary. The full text is:

In America the most popular business lunch is a salad by 43% over a meat dish at 26%.)

Does it mean that a salad is 43% more popular with a popularity of 69%? Or is the usage of the preposition by simply a mistake in this sentence?

  • "Salad is the most popular dish at 43%" sounds more natural on its own. "By" is probably used in the full sentence because a comparison is being made; salad is more popular than meat dishes by the difference between 43% and 26%. Sep 11, 2018 at 8:24

2 Answers 2


If something is more popular by 43%, that means it is 43% more popular than the next most popular item (whether absolute or relative is left ambiguous).

If it's more popular at 43%, that is what it's percentage is - the next most popular item may be at 42%, for example.

Basically the difference lies in whether or not the percentage given is relative to the next most popular item. I would say that the usage in your example is mistaken - or at least very unclear


While what @Chromane said is correct, it changes a little with context.

In general yes, "by 43%" means 43% more, and "at 43%" means that is the flat percentage.

However, the "at" in the sentence you gave acts like a colon would. Therefore it should be read as:

Salad is the most popular business lunch in America (presumably in some kind of vote or survey, 43% of people gave this as their answer), and the next most popular is the meat dish, which 26% of people voted for.

I agree that this is not a particularly clear sentence, but the "at" given is not ungrammatical, just made even more confusing by the use of percentages.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.