The proliferation of electronic bidet seats has increased the proportion/rate of water used in toilets (to the total amount of water used in homes).

I would like to know which of "proportion" and "rate" is suitable for the above sentence I created when the sentence in parentheses is omitted. As far as I could search, I think "rate" is better, but "rate" sometimes means "speed".

1 Answer 1


Proportion is what you're looking for.

Rate indicates that change is what's being measured, or that you're measuring along two axes. You can measure a rate of acceleration, for example—it's not just measuring speed, or time, but the change in speed over time.

Proportion indicates that you are using a measure (volume, in this case) and comparing it to a larger measure that it is a part of. That's precisely what you are measuring here—the volume of the toilet's water relative to the entire house. You're indicating that it's changing, but not measuring the actual change along both axes.

  • 1
    Mind you, a lot of people—native speakers—misuse the word rate. It's not at all uncommon to see the phrase rate of speed, for example, which would be redundant if it weren't incorrect. (The correct phrase would be measure of speed, which, as I said, would be redundant.) So I'm not surprised that your searches led you to believe that rate would be correct here. A lot of native speakers might use it. But it wouldn't be correct.
    – spoko
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 15:38
  • BTW you can edit your answers if you think of new things to add. You shouldn't need to comment on your own answer, only to respond to other comments.
    – Andrew
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 15:51
  • I'm aware of that; I did edit my answer. But this was more of an afterthought; not really part of the answer, to my mind. So I was more comfortable adding it as a comment.
    – spoko
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 16:23

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