Percent and percentage are two similar words that often cause students a lot of problems in Task 1. On some occasions, they’re interchangeable, but it’s much easier to abide by the two following rules.
(1) If the word you want to use has a number as an adjective, you should use percent. Look at the following examples:
- From 2007 to 2010, the figure for Canada fell from 7 percent to 3 percent.
- According to scholars at the University of Oxford, 32 percent of 18- to 19-year-olds did not vote.
While these are both correct, you can use the % sign instead:
- From 2007 to 2010, the figure for Canada fell from 7% to 3%.
However, remember not to use numerals at the beginning of a sentence.
This is wrong:
24% of respondents said they were happy with the service.
While this is correct:
Twenty-four percent of respondents said they were happy with the service.
(2) If the word you want to use doesn’t have a number as an adjective, use percentage. Take a look at these examples:
- A large percentage of people did not vote.
- Students need to score the required percentage to gain entry to the course.
So that’s it. Nice and simple. If it has a number before it, use percent or %; if it doesn’t, use percentage.