0

How can I know if a sentence is talking about an absolute increase or a percentage increase?

Does this sentence talk about the biggest percentage increase because it says "up 9.1 percent"?

The upscale hotel segment had the biggest increase in revenue per room, up 9.1 percent. (The New York Times)

What if I want to talk about an absolute increase. Do I have to use the word "absolute" to let people know that I'm talking about an absolute increase, not a percentage increase?

The upscale hotel segment had the biggest absolute increase in revenue per room from $200 to $350. (I wrote it.)

Is "absolute" necessary here?

3

1 Answer 1

1

Our newscasters screw this up all the time. They often mean say "percent" when they mean "percentage points". Here's an XKCD comic joking about it:

XKCD comic on percentage points

But in the hotel case, it seems like it must mean actual percent. Percentage points are used when talking about a proportion of something, such as voters who support the candidate in the above comic. But percent is used when discussing a ratio between two numbers. If the price rose from $200 to $218 then it rose by 9 percent, not 9 percentage points.

In the second sentence, "absolute" is not necessary.

3
  • Thank you very much. In conclusion, you don't say the biggest percentage increase and the biggest absolute increase. You make it clear by the way you add numbers. If you want to mean "percentage increase", then you say "up 9.1 percent": The upscale hotel segment had the biggest increase in revenue per room, up 9.1 percent. If you want to mean "percentage point increase", then you say "up 9.1 percentage point": The upscale hotel segment had the biggest increase in revenue per room, up 9.1 percentage points. Jul 14, 2022 at 12:59
  • My last comment is too long. So I started this comment. If you want to mean "absolute increase", you simply add the absolute numbers: The upscale hotel segment had the biggest increase in revenue per room, up $18 dollars. Is this correct? Jul 14, 2022 at 12:59
  • Is this the reason why "absolute" in the second sentence of my original post is unnecessary? Jul 14, 2022 at 14:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .