Percent Savings

I ran across a sentence today, and I did not know whether to use a singular or plural verb.

Confounding Sentence:

About 50% of the total savings [is / are] due to the smaller facilities required with Plan B.

OK, so 50% is an amount or a mass, not really a countable item sort of thing – or is it? Savings looks like a plural, but who ever heard of a singular saving? I was flummoxed.

Well, folks, sometimes even the Grammar Geek has to look things up. Here’s what I found:

Percent takes a singular verb when standing alone or when a singular word follows a “percent of” construction. Percent takes a plural verb when a plural word follows a “percent of” construction. So says the AP Style Guide.

Examples:

The consultant said 50% is not a good recovery rate for this kind of oilfield. (stand alone)

The consultant said that 50% of the field is not getting any steam. (of + singular noun)

The consultant said that 50% of the wells need to be acidized. (of + plural noun)

To back that up, Rule #9 on Subject and Verb Agreement on GrammarBook.com says:

“With words that indicate portions—percent, fraction, part, majority, some, all, none, remainder, and so forth—look at the noun in your “of” phrase (object of the preposition) to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb. If the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb.”

OK, so in our confounding sentence, we have “50% of the savings.” If savings is singular, then we would use a singular verb, and if it is plural, we would use a plural verb. So, which is it?

I found the answer in a Communications for Computer Scientists worksheet online about subject and verb agreement. It said: “Some nouns are always considered plural, even though they refer to a single thing. Use plural verbs with these nouns: assets, credentials, dues, earnings, goods, odds, premises, proceeds, riches, savings, thanks, winnings.”

Therefore, savings is plural, so our confounding sentence should read:

About 50% of the total savings are due to the smaller facilities required with Plan B. We learn something new every day.

—————————————–

Funny Typo of the Day:

Make sure you use foil and Saran wrap to protest the cores.

(should be “protect”)

Another one that Spell Checker just won’t catch.

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