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I read this sentence online

  1. Over the last ten years, western societies have seen close to a 20% rise in the number of children who are overweight. Source

I know the writer is native English speaker, but I feel close to a 20% rise is a little bit odd. Should it be like sentence 2?

  1. Over the last ten years, western societies have seen a close to 20% rise in the number of children who are overweight.

Are they both correct or none of them are? Is there a better way to state this idea?

3 Answers 3

1

Both work fine to my ears. I feel like "close to a 20% rise" may be slightly less grammatically correct, but also slightly more natural sounding. Because the writer is likely a native speaker, they probably just went with what sounded most natural to them or came to mind first. I wouldn't worry about using one over the other.

0

Both

close to a 20% rise
a close to 20% rise

are understandable. However, since the rise is what is being stressed

a rise close to 20%
a rise of about 20%

might place more emphasis on the rise as opposed to the closeness of the magnitude.

-1

The sentence is not well written, IMO.

  • "During the last ten years" is better construction. "Over" is about position, as in "above".
  • "Nearly" or "almost" might be better than "close to", which is also about position.
  • Societies do not "see".
  • In this case "increase" has better sentence logic than "rise", which reminds me of hot air, er, a hot air balloon.
  • Why say "children who are overweight" when overweight children works well?

Example rewrite: In western societies, childhood obesity increased nearly twenty percent during the last decade.

This example sentence is smoother and says what it means without news cycle huffery puffery. Sleek English is easier to read and subtly powerful.

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  • 1
    "Over" with an expanse of time, "see" used purely metaphorically for "witnessed"/"observed"/"experienced", and "N% rise" are all idiomatic outside the news industry. Jan 3, 2017 at 5:25
  • @NathanTuggy - true, but their usage is trashy in this case. IMO accepted idioms do not good writing make :-).
    – mickery
    Jan 3, 2017 at 5:55

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