Author Topic: Percent and percentages  (Read 10308 times)

Miss Mae

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Percent and percentages
« on: October 02, 2013, 03:59:50 PM »
There’s this quote from a news report of The Manila Times that haunted me. I put the subject in italics and the predicate in boldface.

Quote
At least 91 percent of DAP releases for 2011 and 2012 was channeled to projects under various government agencies and local government units. Only nine percent of total DAP releases for the same period was released to projects identified by legislators,” the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] said.

But if you're referring to a percentage, what determines the verb that should be used is its object, right? And since the object is the “DAP releases for 2011 and 2012,” the verb should have been “were channeled.” Right?


Joe Carillo

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Re: Percent and percentages
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2013, 09:11:13 PM »
You’re right. The verb for the first sentence of that passage should take the plural form “were channeled,” so that sentence should be corrected as follows: “At least 91 percent of DAP releases for 2011 and 2012 were channeled to projects under various government agencies and local government units.”

The rule is that in a noun phrase that indicates a portion of a whole—in particular of a portion of the noun “percent,” “fraction,” “part,” “majority,” “some,” “all,” “none,” or “remainder”—what determines whether the noun phrase is singular or plural is whether the object of the preposition “of” that follows the portion word is singular or plural.

If that object of the preposition “of” is plural, the verb should be also be in the plural form to ensure subject-verb agreement, as in this corrected form of the sentence you presented: “At least 91 percent of DAP releases for 2011 and 2012 were channeled to projects under various government agencies and local government units.” Here, since the object of the preposition “of” is the plural-form phrase “DAP releases for 2011 and 2012,” the verb for that noun phrase should also be in the plural form, “were channeled.”

On the other hand, if the object of the preposition “of” is singular, say if we change the plural-form phrase “DAP releases for 2011 and 2012” to the singular form “the DAP release for 2011,” the sentence will now have to use the singular verb form “was channeled,” as follows: “At least 91 percent of the DAP release for 2011 was channeled to projects under various government agencies and local government units.” 

To get a good feel of this subject-agreement scheme for portions, practice forming other sentences by replacing “per cent” with “fraction,” “part,” “majority,” “some,” “all,” “none,” and “remainder” and then alternatively using singular and plural forms for the noun phrase that serves as the object of the preposition “of.” You’ll soon get the hang of it and routinely avoid the subject-verb agreement mistake you found in that news story.

RELATED READING ON SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT:
How the mass media can lick errors in subject-verb agreement for good

Miss Mae

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Re: Percent and percentages
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2013, 07:51:19 PM »
Yehey!