Are percentages singular or plural?



  • 20% of the students are/is present.
  • The remaining 20% of the protein form/forms enzymes.

Singular verb or plural — which one is correct?


Posted 2014-06-20T09:27:51.513

Reputation: 321



When we are looking at a sentence with words that indicate portions (percent in your example, also: fraction, some...), to choose the correct subject-verb agreement, we simply have to look at the noun after "of".

In the first case, the noun is "students" - a countable noun and it is in plural, therefore the verb should be in plural as well:

20% of the students are present

Even if there are 100 students, and you want to infer 1%, you still use plural:

1% of 100 students are present

In the second case, the noun is "protein" - countable noun in singular, the verb is singular as well:

The remaining 20% of the protein forms enzymes


Posted 2014-06-20T09:27:51.513

Reputation: 1 304

What if it was 1% of the sudents? – Lucian Sava – 2014-06-20T09:42:53.120

4Still the same, a plural is needed. Even if there were 100 students, and we knew that 1% is only one student :) – Vilmar – 2014-06-20T10:20:16.730

@Vilmar so much the better if you embedded your comment – learner – 2014-10-24T12:37:00.167

@Vilmar does this still work with "100% of 1 student"? – Ooker – 2014-12-21T20:07:09.460

1@Ooker A rare thing to be seen in regular speech (unless we are talking about parts of the student or really formal statistics) :) In this case student is singular, so yeah, one would say "100% of 1 student is present at the exam". – Vilmar – 2014-12-22T08:15:29.987