# Where should I put “approximately”?

Which of these three sentences is correct and why:

A) The prices approximately increased by 20%

B) The prices increased approximately by 20%

C) The prices increased by approximately 20%

Put approximately with the term it modifies:

• approximately increased has approximately modifying increased ... what could that mean? Did prices not actually 'increase' but just do something close to 'increase'? But prices either increase or decrease or stay level, so approximately increased doesn't seem very likely.

• approximately by 20% has approximately modifying by 20% ... what could that mean? Did prices not actually increase by 20% but do something involving a different preposition, such as behind or across from? But by is the preposition we use to measure percentage changes, so that doesn't seem very likely.

• approximately 20% ... what could that mean? Did prices not actually increase by exactly 20% but by a different number close to 20%, such as 19.73% or 20.4%, or by a range of different numbers for different products, all in the neighbourhood of 20%? That's a common way of rounding numbers to give a readily intuited sense of scale, so that in fact seems very likely.

C)The prices increased by approximately 20% is what you want.

approximately

/əˈprɒksɪmɪtlɪ/