Fractions and Percentages

May 21, 2021

Percentages and fractions can be plural or singular. Just like in the last lesson, the verb you choose will depend on whether you’re talking about a total amount or multiple units. There are several ways to figure out whether to use a singular or plural verb.

Often, if the word that follows the fraction or percentage is singular, you’ll use a singular verb. If the word following the fraction is plural, use a plural verb.

Two-thirds of the lemonade has been finished off.
Twenty-five percent of the lemonade has been finished off.

Lemonade is singular, so use a singular verb.

Two-thirds of the students are on the field trip today.
Twenty-five percent of the students are on the field trip today.

Students is plural, so use a plural verb.

If the fraction or percentage comes before a collective noun, follow the rules you learned in the collective nouns lesson in this module. Remember that collective nouns can take a singular or plural verb depending on whether the noun is acting as a whole group or whether the members of the group are acting as individuals.

Half the class is on the field trip today.
Fifty percent of the class is on the field trip today.

You’re talking about the class as a whole group, not about what the individual students are doing.

Half the class have signed up for the field trip.
Fifty percent of the class have signed up for the field trip.

Each individual student signed up for the field trip; the class did not sign up together as a group.

Hint: You can also fall back on asking questions like how much? and how many?, just like you did in the last lesson on money, time, and measurements. If you can ask the question how much?, use a singular verb. If you can ask the question how many?, use a plural verb.

SingularPlural
FractionsTwo-thirds of the lemonade has been finished off.How much of the lemonade has been finished? Two-thirds of it.Two-thirds of the students are on the field trip today.How many students are on the field trip? Two-thirds of them.
Half the class is on the field.How much of the class is on the field? Half.Half the class have signed up for the field trip.How many in the class have signed up? Half of them.
PercentagesAbout 2% of the population has autism.How much of the population has autism? Two percent.About 2% of people have autism.How many people have autism? Two percent of them.

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