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"%40 of population is fat."

as opposed to:

"The %40 of population is fat."

I know the definite article is used when referring to specific things but where and how could I make this distinction.

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    I think the only time you'd reference a specific percentage using the definite article is in contexts where that same percentage has already been identified earlier. For example, 40% of the population consume more energy than they use. Unsurprisingly, the 40% is fat. But that's a weird contrived context, and I suspect it's impossible to even contrive a context where you'd also qualify that percentage as 40% of the population (note that without that article, the words are simply ungrammatical). Oct 28, 2016 at 17:44
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    @FumbleFingers, do you mean a context like, "the 40% of the population that is fat"? Oct 28, 2016 at 20:20
  • @FumbleFingers: protest groups talk about the 1%, because you're supposed to know what they mean. Nov 9, 2016 at 20:06

2 Answers 2

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In this case, the definite article should go before "population", since this is what you are specifying. The percentage is what is describing the specific subject.

Also, the "%" goes after the number. So:

40% of the population is fat.

Although this is more style than grammar, starting a sentence with a number is typically avoided in formal English. So, you could also write it as:

Forty percent of the population is fat.

Although, if this is formal, I would also avoid the word "fat" in favor of something more precise and scientific.

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A definite article is required, but not where you've used it. It should be "40% of the population is fat."

There can be many populations, but you should use "the" to indicate you're referring to a specific one.

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