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If I put "100% correct pronunciation" in the following sentence, is it understandable and correct? "100%" is what I would like to emphasize. If it is not right, how should it be expressed?

"It is the 100% correct pronunciation of mischievous you just heard in the video."

PS. I looked it up in the Google Ngram Viewer. But, it turned out nothing.

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  • 2
    We like verbs in English. X is pronounced 100% correctly in the video.
    – Lambie
    Jul 19 at 17:50
  • 22
    I doubt that there is a 100% percent correct pronunciation for any word in English. Because which English? It's like saying "this is a 100% correct painting of a chair." Jul 19 at 18:10
  • 3
    @Peter-ReinstateMonica Agreed. Either no pronunciations are 100% correct, or all pronunciations are 100% correct. Sorry, it's just my nature to be both /mz-CHEE-vyus/, /mis-CHEE-vus/, and /MIS-chee-vus/!
    – Rich
    Jul 19 at 19:23
  • 9
    Can any poster explain exactly why this sample sentence is so wrong? Aside from everyone wanting to show off that they aren't prescriptivists, the structure of the sample sentence is patently awkward but I can't think of any rule or reason that makes it so. Is it just a matter of too many modifiers being piled up in the middle? or is there another reason that makes it feel so much like machine translation? (OP: Not a dig. You're learning. I'm just legitimately curious why your structure seems off when 100% correct is 100% correct English.)
    – lly
    Jul 19 at 20:38
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    @lly It's not wrong, but it does sound a little odd, because it's a cleft sentence, and they often sound odd out of context. Jul 20 at 1:40
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Some English speakers feel that '100 per cent' is overused as an expression, especially in connection with things that cannot be measured. For example, you couldn't say a pronunciation was '87% correct' - how could that even be measured? But in colloquial speech, '100%' is often used to mean 'completely', and '99%' (or sometimes '99.99%') to mean 'almost'.

Your example sentence is okay. It captures everyday speech quite well. Although it might be less open to criticism if it was phrased like this:

The pronunciation of 'mischievous' you just heard in the video is 100% correct.

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  • 6
    Even better leave out the 100%. I would also note that there will be several correct ways to pronounce words so there will be several correct ways your way is probably not the only one.
    – mmmmmm
    Jul 19 at 15:53
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    @mmmmmm But the question is whether the 100% is wrong. The answer notes that some people like you don't like it, but it isn't wrong.
    – lly
    Jul 19 at 20:31
  • @lly I voted your comment up and all, but to be pedantic... the existence of multiple correct pronunciations doesn't make a correct pronunciation less correct, true. You could even argue as long as your meaning is conveyed, it's a (100%) correct pronunciation. But as just shown, the 100% is redundant. While redundancy isn't incorrect, it's discouraged in most forms of writing unless it really really really emphasizes a point. I'd argue 'correctness', as a general not literal term, would be determined by the formality of the writing, which is currently unknown.
    – TCooper
    Jul 20 at 19:49
  • @mmmmmm I think I've made it pretty clear in my answer that some speakers feel this is 'overused'. I'm one of them. Still, English speakers say it. I'm fine with it when it is possible to have gradations, and with this example I believe you can. The answer to a mathematical question is always a binary correct or incorrect, but when it comes to correct pronunciation it can be a sliding scale - that is to say, you could get it "almost" correct.
    – Astralbee
    Jul 20 at 21:28
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Understandable?

Yes. Almost all English natives would understand your intended meaning.

Correct?

I'd say so. Some might argue that it should be an adverb like "fully", but if it's correct to say that something is 100% correct, I don't know why it wouldn't be correct to use that as an identifier.

Proper?

Not really. There's nothing "wrong" with it per se, but it doesn't sound as natural as "this pronunciation is 100% correct" or "this is the correct pronunciation". I agree with others who have said that it's not clear what percentages mean in this context. Also, in English, correct means 100% correct unless otherwise specified (ie partially correct), so it's redundant to say 100% correct. This redundancy can be used for emphasis ("That answer is 100% correct" is stronger praise than "That answer is correct"), but it's not typically used that way as an identifier ("That is the 100% correct answer" sounds a bit weird).

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‘100% correct’ is grammatically correct in this context, though the organization of the sentence is a bit atypical for many more formal dialects of English and may be difficult for some people to understand without having to think a bit (I would instead restructure things as suggested at the end of Astralbee’s answer as that resolves both issues).

However, it’s not really semantically correct in this context for two reasons:

  • The use of ‘100%’ implies that there is a quantitative measure involved (that is, you can assign a number that can be used to compare different examples in a normal mathematical manner), but you cannot quantitatively measure how ‘correct’ the pronunciation of a word is. That is, you can’t say ‘Pronunciation A is 1% more correct than pronunciation B.’, so claiming that a pronunciation is 100% correct does not make sense.
  • ‘Correct’ pronunciation is exceedingly subjective and varies significantly by dialect. See for example the difference between rhotic and non-rhotic accents (non-rhotic accents largely elide ‘r’ in certain places) or the arguments over the pronunciation of the ‘a’ in ‘tomato’ and ‘potato’ (some argue it should be like the ‘a’ in ‘father’, others argue it should be like the ‘a’ in ‘late’).

Because of these two aspects, the use of ‘100% correct pronunciation’ sounds rather out of place. What exactly I would replace it with though kind of depends on the context. If there’s a dispute over how ‘mischievous’ was pronounced in the video, I would probably instead phrase like ‘The pronunciation is not wrong’, but if the video was being used as learning material, I would probably call the pronunciation the ‘accepted’ pronunciation (or, in the case of a word that has multiple widely used pronunciations, I would qualify it as ‘an accepted’ pronunciation).

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  • I agree with your answer, but don't think that "100% correct pronunciation" will sound out of place. Instead, it will either sound egotistical (i.e., listeners will become even more pedantic than usual in searching for errors), like a joke (i.e., listeners will assume speaker is admitting that they probably pronounced the word incorrectly by intentionally making an exaggerated claim), or self-aware (i.e., listeners will assume the speaker is is reminding the user that pronunciation is hard to pin down).
    – Brian
    Jul 20 at 15:59
  • I don't think there is any actual argument over the pronunciation of "potato". The "potahto" in the song was just a play on the British pronunciation of "tomato", not a genuine variation. Jul 21 at 7:27
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    @EspeciallyLime I’ve actually encountered a number of people who do pronounce ‘potato’ like the BrE pronunciation of ‘tomato’. I agree there’s probably not much actual argument about it, but the pronunciation does exist in the wild, at least to a limited degree. Jul 21 at 11:15
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In a friendly situation, "100%" is often used in place of "completely" or "absolutely" or "perfect". For example, calling a hamburger "100% delicious". It's a funny metaphor suggesting that a deliciousness-meter would bang the needle at the far side. People might even say "110% delicious".

But in a less-than-friendly situation "100%" can be too forceful, and rude. You could have said 95% or any other number, but chose 100%, implying that anyone who disagrees with you is very, very, very wrong. In the case of "100% correct pronunciation" it seems to say that's the only way to say it, and any other way, even a little different, is 0% correct.

If someone asked "can I say it like in this video", then replying "sure, the video says it 100% correctly" is fine -- you're reassuring them in a positive way. But if you corrected how they say it and said "listen to this video, it's 100% correct", the "100%" is just rude. But if you said they were 90% correct and the video was 100% correct, that's fine since you're using %'s as an alternate way of saying the positive statement "your pronunciation is very close to perfect".

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Echoing others' answers: whether or not it is "correct" by some standard, it would sound completely fine in an informal setting, and might sound a bit silly in a more formal setting.

That is, as others have already noted, the assertion cannot be literally true, because that alleged literal true statement does not admit precise parsing.

But in informal situations, for rhetorical effect, for advertising, etc., sure, say a thing is "100% whatever". Or, as also noted already, there is a style of "110 % whatever". As in "give 110% effort".

(This reflects my native U.S. English, not-so-young person, viewpoint.)

For a slightly more formal/dignified version, I'd say "completely correct" rather than "100% correct". Or, hm, just "correct". :)

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  • In spoken language, Americans still use the expression "100% correct" instead of "100% correct + noun" from time to time, don't they? For example, "if I'm not 100% correct with ..." Jul 21 at 8:30
  • @questionguy, ah, yes, in a negation... "I may not be 100% correct"... sounds current. Jul 21 at 15:30
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The sentence It is the 100% correct pronunciation of 'mischievous' you just heard in the video is grammatical, but it is ambiguous, and it is unidiomatic.

It is grammatical because it agrees with the rules of how English noun phrases can be constructed. The pattern of the 100% correct pronunciation of 'mischievous' can be analysed as DETERMINER + ADJECTIVE PHRASE + HEAD, which is a rather frequent pattern in English. Struturally, the noun phrase at hand may be analysed like so:

Tree diagram of the noun phrase

So, there's nothing wrong with the grammar of your sentence.

But your sentence is ambiguous because you just heard in the video could either be a relative clause or a subordinate that clause.

  • If it is a relative clause that refers to the nominal pronunciation of 'mischievous', then the subject it of the sentence is refers to one particular recording of the word 'mischievous', namely the one that was just heard in the video and which happens to be also a 100% percent correct pronunciation (regardless such a thing exists in the first place – see the comments to the OP). As such, there is no particular focus on the subject. Structurally, the relative clause clause is you just heard ___ in the video, with ___ indicating the gap from which the 100% correct pronunciation of 'mischievous' was extracted. It is integrated into the noun phrase [NP the 100% correct pronunciation of 'mischievous' [that] you just heard in the video] as a post-head modifier.

  • If it is a subordinate that clause, then the whole sentence is an it-cleft that places strong focus on the noun phrase _the 100% percent correct pronunciation of 'mischievous', as in It is the 100% correct pronunciation of 'mischievous' [that] you just heard in the video – NOT the pronunciation that is only 50 percent correct. Structurally, there is a huge difference to the relative clause, as the that clause is subordinated to the matrix clause it is the 100% correct pronunciation, and not a post-head modifier as in the relative clause interpretation.

The expression is unidiomatic because (American) English speakers appear to prefer the indefinite article in noun phrases that contain 100 percent + ADJ as an attributive modifier of the head. This is supported by numbers from the Corpus of Contemporary English (COCA). This can be tested using the search string a|the 100 percent ADJ NOUN, which searches for combinations of 100 percent and any adjective which is followed by a noun preceded by either a or the.

The definite article is found in only 12 tokens, at least five of which are questionable because it's not clear whether 100 percent modifies the following adjective or acts as a modifier of the nominal that consists of the adjective and the head noun. Here are the remaining seven cases from COCA that should have a structure analogous to the one in your sentence:

After London, the [100 percent recyclable] sculpture made the rounds on a tour

And the [100 percent federal] reimbursement of debris cleanup […]

The President is proposing an extension of the [100 percent expensing] provision that he signed into law

articles attacking their marriage, such as the [100 percent misguided] prediction that Odom 's departure…

Sex education programs should mention that the [100 percent conclusive] way to avoid unwanted pregnancy […]

"Why?" "The [100 Percent American] Act. For genetic security, they say. […]"

We came up with the middle-class tax cut plus the [100 percent tax-deductible] tuition... Excuse me.

Tokens in which the construction 100 percent + ADJ + NOUN is preceded by the indefinite article a are much more frequent in COCA. The total number of hits is 75, and while I didn't go through all of them, I'd estimate that at least 60 of them are cases that contain an Adjective Phrase [100 percent + ADJ] as in your data. Here are the first seven confirmed instances:

the SAFEST bet is to shoot for a [100 percent healthy] weight and stay there?

If we get a [100 percent accurate] vote count in Florida, then every state's […]

A [100 percent UV-protected] polypropylene cover will be available […]

A [100 percent recycled] pile fabric made from plastic soda bottles by […]

Gambineri added that untreated rabies can cause nearly a [100 percent fatal] illness in humans, and that the viruses […]

of securing our airports . Although it seems clear that a [100 percent secure] airport is years away , it is important to realize

[…] diabetes patients who did not use insulin had a [100 percent increased] risk of developing cancer […]

The log-likelihood test is one of the established ways of determining whether the frequency difference between two corpus searches is statistically significant. I used the Lancaster LL calculator for that purpose. Indeed, assuming a frequency of 7 for the definite article, the lower estimate 60 for the indefinite article, and a corpus size of 1 billion for COCA, the difference is indeed statistically significant (LL=48.02, p<0.001). The effect size estimators such as the Bayes factor show that this is a very strong effect (Bayes=26.06).

Based on this, my prediction would be that if you did an acceptability rating task for your original sentence (which includes the definite article), and if you then repeated the task with the indefinite article, your speakers would find the second variant notably more acceptable.

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  • @Schmudi Thank you for your detailed explanation for the sentence. Basically, from what you mentioned, the expression, a or the + 100 percent + ADJ + NOUN, is unidiomatic and correct. However, is "100 percent correct pronunciation" also correct to say it if we leave out the ambiguity of the sentence and the article issue, a or the, for the time being? Jul 21 at 8:08
  • @questionguy: In my opinion, the only problem with a 100 percent correct pronunciation (with a instead of the) is that correctness is not really a good dimension to judge pronunciations, as pointed out in the comments to your question. But that's a semantic issue, not a grammatical one – linguists simply don't think in terms of correctness. That's also why my answer states that your expression is "grammatical" instead of saying that it's "correct". There's no formal reason to shun your construction, but that doesn't mean that every native speaker will like it.
    – Schmuddi
    Jul 21 at 11:48
  • Got your point. Thank you. Jul 21 at 15:10
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I would say "perfectly correct" or "exactly correct." Using "100%" is weird because it's not something that can be quantitatively measured (or even defined).

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I would say "100% correct" means "indisputably correct". Ironically, I think the phrase "100% correct" is itself 100% correct. Richard Mullins

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I would say "100% correct" means "indisputably correct". Ironically, I think the phrase "100% correct" is itself 100% correct. I am speaking rhetorically. Of course, there is nothing to stop anyone disputing my interpretation.

Richard Mullins

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