percentage of people is/are

Reply Thu 21 Aug, 2008 08:59 pm
What percentage of the people in the world is/are illiterate?

Which verb should I use?

Many thanks.
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Reply Thu 21 Aug, 2008 09:05 pm
Is. Percentage is a singular noun. At least in the US. The British do some funny things with collective nouns.
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Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 12:44 am
According to Dictionary.com:

When preceded by the, percentage takes a singular verb: The percentage of unskilled workers is small. When preceded by a, it takes either a singular or plural verb, depending on the number of the noun in the prepositional phrase that follows: A small percentage of the workers are unskilled. A large percentage of the crop has spoiled.

Your sentence contains neither the nor a, but to my ear it sounds closer to the indefinite article rule rather than the definite article rule, which would mean that it takes the plural verb.
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 01:16 am
Poor Tanguatlay. Hasn't gotten a straight answer all day.
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