Percent Sign

What is a percent sign?

We use percentages to divide things and as such you will find this often in maths (especially areas like statistics).

100% is the maximum of something. If we have a whole cake then we have 100% of that cake. If we then eat half of it then we have 50% of that cake left. The percent sign “%” is used to show that the number is a percentage.

Here are some common divisions in English and their percentage equivalent.



whole100%
half50%
third33.3%
quarter25%
fifth20%

Percent sign, before or after?

As you can see in previous examples the percent sign always comes after the number, never before. It is the same when we write percent as a word and when we pronounce it.

Should I write “percent” or “%”?

“%” is the abbreviated form and is seen as a little more casual than the written form. For this reason it is preferred to use “percent” if we are writing a title (unless we really need to save space).

We also only use “percent” if we write a number as a word. In this case we don’t use “%”

fifty %

fifty percent

Where else do we use a percent sign?

Computers

The percent sign is used a lot with computers and is common in computer languages such as:-

  • C
  • Perl
  • BASIC

Linguistics

We can add a percent sign before a string to show that some speakers think it is well-formed but others find it ill-formed. We can find these differences due to dialect or idiolects.

Percent sign quiz

See what you can remember about the percent sign with this quiz!

Which one is the percent sign?
How much is a whole?
How much is a quarter?
How much is a half?
How much is a fifth?
If I have a cake and eat a quarter of it, how much is remaining?
If I have a pie and eat a half of it, how much is remaining?
Does the percent sign come before or after a number?
When we write a number as a word do we...
Where else do we use a percent sign?
Complete the form below to see results
Percent Sign
You got {{userScore}} out of {{maxScore}} correct
{{title}}
{{image}}
{{content}}