This is the fourth of six High English grammar quizzes on comparatives and it focusses in particular on comparatives used to express proportion.
We cannot do without mathematics. We use it in our everyday life and the subject is a very precise one. If we go to the shop to buy some goods, we buy them with a specific quantity or number in mind. We may ask for 250 grams of sugar, or 12 eggs. Alternatively, we could ask for a quarter kilogram of sugar or a dozen eggs. Now, we know that 250 grams is a quarter of a kilogram because we have used proportion.
There are many words that can be used in place of numbers. Without actually giving the exact numbers involved, proportions help us to communicate the nearest quantity or numbers. Here's a couple of examples:
‘ALMOST ALL the cakes were eaten by my brother.’
'My brother left VERY FEW cakes for me.’
These sentences communicate the writer's meaning without actually using any numbers.
English grammar often uses proportions as comparatives and these help us to express ourselves better. In many Government hand outs statistics are given as just figures. But, when they appear in the newspapers the information is given in a way that makes more sense for the reader. The Government could put out a statistic such as '26% of India’s population is below the poverty line'. The newspaper would probably put out a headline that reads ‘Government says that JUST OVER A QUARTER of India’s population is below the poverty line.’
We use a number of words to describe proportions and they include ‘vast majority’, ‘much less’, ‘a small minority’ and ‘fewer.’ It is useful to learn words that express proportion and the quiz on grammar that follows helps you to learn some of them.