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"My brother ate almost all of the cakes." - 'Almost all' is a comparative of proportion.

# Grammar 38 - Comparatives - Proportion

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.

1.
"23% of the people surveyed did not watch movies in the multiplexes."
Choose the sentence that expresses this statistic using expressions that describe proportions.
Less than 25% of the people surveyed did not watch movies in the multiplexes.
23 people out of 100 people surveyed did not watch movies in the multiplexes.
Almost a quarter of the people surveyed did not watch movies in the multiplexes.
About 25% of the people surveyed did not watch movies in the multiplexes.
25% is a quarter so 23% is almost a quarter and hence this expression is used. The other options all use numbers rather than expressions
2.
"In a survey conducted by a news channel 8,550 persons out of a total of 11,200 persons polled said that the Modi Government had done a good job."
Choose the sentence that expresses this statistic using expressions that describe proportions.
About 75% of the persons polled said that the Modi Government had done a good job.
76.3% of the persons polled said that the Modi Government had done a good job.
Slightly over three quarters of the persons polled said that the Modi Government had done a good job.
76 out of every 100 persons polled said that the Modi Government had done a good job.
75% is three quarters so 76.3% is slightly over three quarters. The other options all use numbers rather than expressions
3.
"Only 6 out of 995 people surveyed had not suffered from bronchitis."
Choose the sentence that expresses this statistic using expressions that describe proportions.
0.6% of people surveyed had not suffered from bronchitis.
Almost none of the people surveyed had not suffered from bronchitis.
Less than 1% of the people surveyed had not suffered from bronchitis.
6 out of 995 is a very small number and hence the expression almost none. The other options all use numbers rather than expressions
4.
"In a survey it was found that 4% of the respondents felt that there should be no restrictions on Internet usage."
Choose the sentence that expresses this statistic using expressions that describe proportions.
A small minority of the respondents felt that there should be no restrictions on Internet usage.
Four out of every hundred respondents felt that there should be no restrictions on Internet usage.
Less than 5% of respondents felt that there should be no restrictions on Internet usage.
Only 4% of respondents felt that there should be no restrictions on Internet usage.
4% is a small percentage of the total and hence it can be described as a small minority. The other options all use numbers rather than expressions
5.
"In a survey of persons watching TV, 34% said they watched TV in the morning, 52% said they watched in the evening and 14% said they watched late at night."
Choose the sentence that expresses these statistics using expressions that describe proportions.
A majority of persons watching TV said they watched TV in the evening.
Just over a third of persons watching TV said they watched TV in the morning.
A minority of persons watching TV said they watched TV in the late night.
All of the above are correct.
Anything above 50% is a majority. 33% is roughly one third. In this example the persons watching TV late at night constitute the minority
6.
"At test matches played at home Dhoni, as captain, won 21 matches out of 30 played."
Choose the sentence that expresses this statistic using expressions that describe proportions.
At test matches played at home Dhoni, as captain, won just over two thirds of matches played.
At test matches played at home Dhoni, as captain, won 70% of matches played.
At test matches played at home Dhoni, as captain, won a round 70% of matches played.
At test matches played at home Dhoni, as captain, won the majority of matches played.
Two thirds is 66.67% so 70% is just over two thirds and hence the expression is used. Options 2 and 3 use numbers rather than expressions. In Option 4, while the statement is right it is not appropriate as 70% is much higher than 50% required for a majority and 'just over two thirds' is the more appropriate expression.
7.
"Doctors said that between 5% and 7% of children contract the flu at the time when monsoon sets in."
Choose the sentence that expresses this statistic using expressions that describe proportions.
Doctors said that a small minority of children contract the flu at the time when monsoon sets in.
Doctors said that very few children contract the flu at the time when monsoon sets in.
Doctors said that up to 7% of children contract the flu at the time when monsoon sets in.
Options 1 and 2 above are correct but option 3 is wrong.
5%-7% is considered to be very few or a small minority and hence both options 1 and 2 are expressions of proportions. Option 3 uses numbers rather than expressions
8.
"As captain, Saurav Ganguly had won or drawn 36 matches out of a total of 49 matches played."
Choose the sentence that expresses this statistic using expressions that describe proportions.
As captain, Saurav Ganguly had won or drawn under 75% of matches played.
As captain, Saurav Ganguly had won or drawn about 75% of matches played.
As captain, Saurav Ganguly had won or drawn 73.6% of matches played.
As captain, Saurav Ganguly had won or drawn just under three quarters of matches played.
75% is three quarters so 73.6% is slightly under three quarters and hence this expression is used. The other options all use numbers rather than expressions
9.
"Among 108 persons surveyed, 102 of them said they were smokers."
Choose the sentence that expresses this statistic using expressions that describe proportions.
94.4% of persons surveyed said they were smokers.
Over 90% of the persons surveyed said they were smokers.
102 out of the 108 persons surveyed said they were smokers.
A vast majority of persons surveyed said they were smokers.
Anything over 90% is considered very large and hence it can be described as a vast majority. The other options all use numbers rather than expressions
10.
"In a class of 72 children 34 were girls."
Choose the sentence that expresses this statistic using expressions that describe proportions.
47.2% of the children in the class were girls.
Slightly less than half of the children in the class were girls.
34 out of 72 children in the class were girls.
Less than 50% of the children in the class were girls.
50% is one half so a number just below 50% can be described as slightly less than half. The other options all use numbers rather than expressions
Author:  V T Narendra