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I am wondering whether "was" or "Were" should be used in the following:

A small percentage of the revenues was / were donated to charity.

But a dictionary has the following example:

A high percentage of married women have part-time jobs.

I'd appreciate your help.

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  • The dictionary example involves a different issue. The "small percentage of the revenues" is a unit grouping of money, so we treat it as singular. "$1000 was donated to charity." However, "high percentage of married women" refers to a quantity of people", which is treated as plural. "5,000 women have part-time jobs."
    – user3169
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 7:23
  • How about "The revenues were donated to charity"?
    – Apollyon
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 11:16
  • That is OK. The difference here would be "A small percentage of the revenue" referring to part of a larger group (so use "was") vs. "A small percentage of the revenues" referring to some quantity of many separate revenues ($100 here, $200 there, etc.) (so use "were").
    – user3169
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 17:03
  • Please read the sentence carefully. i am not using "a small percentage of" in my above sentence: "The revenues were donated to charity."
    – Apollyon
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 22:37
  • The purpose was to bring out the question why "the revenues" used alone requires a plural verb, but it does not need it when preceded by "a small percentage of."
    – Apollyon
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 22:38

1 Answer 1

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In this case, the linking verb is referring to "percentage", so you would choose "was".

It can often help, when confused on which linking verb to use, to remove the prepositional phrase. "A small percentage was donated to charity."

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  • I am concerned with the number agreement. A dictionary has the following example: A high percentage of married women have part-time jobs.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 22:23
  • @Apollyon Your sentence is still correct. The verb "have" is still referring to percentage. Remember that a common check is removing the prepositional phrase and seeing if the sentence is still correct. "A high percentage have part time jobs."
    – Yvain
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 12:04

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