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Getting Smarter through Language

Subject-Verb Agreement with Fractions and Percentages

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As shown in a previous lesson about simple and complex subjects, the simple subject is the main word or words that refers to the grammatical subject of the sentence (i.e., the person, place, thing, or idea that does or is something). The verb must agree with the “core” or main part of the subject, that is, the simple subject.

You should be careful when a subject involves a fraction or a percentage. If you apply the incorrect logic, you may think the subject is singular when it is actually plural, which means the verb must be plural as well.

Video Activity

Watch Subject-verb agreement with fractions and percentages on YouTube for further information and examples on this topic.

Subjects with Fractions and Percentages

Subjects with fractions and percentages refers to subjects containing a proportion such as

one-third of the students,

three-quarters of the water,

one percent of the people or 1% of the people,

75 percent or 75% of the population

The most important concept to understand is that a subject with a fraction or percent can be singular or plural. Whether it is singular or plural depends on what it is a proportion of.

Below are examples of sentences containing singular and plural subjects with fractions. Note that singular fractions or percents refer to countable things, and singular ones refer to a mass, substance, abstract concepts, or nouns denoting singular entities.

Singular Fractions or Percentages

Examples with singular fractions:
  • One-third of the water in the dam has dried up.
  • Half of the bread in the restaurant is baked in-house.
  • One-quarter of all the rice we had needs to be discarded because it was not refrigerated properly.
  • Sometimes as much as three quarters of my time is wasted dealing with unimportant matters in the office.
Examples with singular percentages:
  • Approximately 1% of the water on Earth

    is locked up in ice and snow.
  • Almost 50% of American wheat is exported.
  • Seventy-five percent of the coffee cultivated worldwide is known as Arabica coffee.
  • Around 95% of your donation goes directly to help our cause; only 5% is used to cover management costs.

Plural Fractions and Percentages

Examples with plural fractions:
  • One-third of the students in my class have to take the exam again.
  • Half of the money has gone missing.
  • Two thirds of your grade in this course comes from homework and short assignments.
Examples with plural percentages:
  • Fifty percent of the teachers in my school are Harvard graduates.
  • Approximately 62% of the inhabitants of Eckstown speak more than one language.
  • One hundred percent of the money we receive has been donated to charitable causes.

Related Lessons

To learn how to identify singular and plural simple subjects, see Simple and complex subjects and subject-verb agreement.

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