I just learned that the plural form of "percent" is percents, so can we say

how many percents of apples are there in a lot?

instead of "how many percent of apples are there in a lot? Thank you.

  • 2
    "How many percents of apple are there in a lot?" doesn't make any sense. Oct 5, 2022 at 18:54
  • 3
    Your link to Webster's dictionary gives a very specific definition and example for the word percents. That definition is -- Securities bearing a specific rate of interest. So percents is not defined as the plural of one part per hundred. It has an entirely different definition. No you cannot use percents that way because that is not what percents means. You may want to hone your dictionary skills.
    – EllieK
    Oct 5, 2022 at 19:47
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    "How many" is not used with percent; percents are not normally countable items (notice the usage of "percents" here, referring to multiple usages of the term, not multiple portions of something). It represents a portion of the whole based on a scale of 100 divisions. The normal usage would be "what percent of the lot is apples?", similar to "What portion of the lot is apples?" ("percent" specifies the units you want the answer in, where "portion" would allow an answer in any relevant units).
    – fixer1234
    Oct 5, 2022 at 20:09
  • 1
    The definition referred to in the link above is a British term: securities bearing a specified rate of interest We invested in 3 percents.
    – Lambie
    Oct 5, 2022 at 20:22
  • 1
    Which I think was the point that @EllieK was making.
    – WS2
    Oct 5, 2022 at 20:34

3 Answers 3


The correct Question will always and only be "What percentage… ?"

Please consider what Merriam-Webster is pluralising.

"We invested in 3 percents" does not use 'percents' as a plural form of 'percent.'

Rather, it's short-hand for "we invested in shares, each giving a return of three percent."

Only the shares are plural… never the percentage.

"We invested in threes" with no reference to 'percent(s)' would mean exactly the same, the difference being not the content but simply the intended audience. Simple "… threes…" would be used to people who clearly knew exactly what was meant; perhaps the experts you dealt with every day. "… three percents…" would be used to people such as clients who knew generally what you were doing, but were not familiar with the intricate details.

Please remember, 'How many percent…' is not strictly correct, even though it will always be understood. 'What percent…' is similarly flawed. No 'percents' will ever be correct, except as above.

The correct Question will always and only be "What percentage… ?"

  • Thank you, everyone, for your detailed explanations!
    – Maurice
    Oct 9, 2022 at 3:01

Generally, we'd say percentage instead.

What percentage of the lot is apples?

What percent of the lot is apples? Fifteen percent is apples.

Five percent of the apples are rotten.

The percentage applies to the lot (seen as 100%), not to the apples. So, 5% means every 5 apples out of 100 hundred apples.


  • 2
    The question is about the plural usage of the word percent. The question is not about the definition of the word.
    – EllieK
    Oct 5, 2022 at 19:43
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    @EllieK-Don'tsupporther It is not only about that. The OP is trying to say what I have helped him to say. He mistakenly believes one can say in English: percents of apples and of course that's inaccurate. I only defined it to clarify that the lot is the unit, not the apple. Anything else you might like to add? Feel free.
    – Lambie
    Oct 5, 2022 at 20:17


The sentence:

how many percents of apples are there in a lot?

is not grammatically valid. In fact there are several problems with it.

First of all, the word "percents" is not a general plural of "percent". It is instead a very specialized form. It is used in such phrases as "West Indian three-percents" or "Government two-percents". These are short for "West Indian three-percent bonds" or "Government two-percent bonds". The word "percents" is not used in any other context, to the best of my understanding. Even that use is marked as "chiefly British" and is now, I think, somewhat old-fashioned and rarely used. I have encountred it largely in historical novels set from say 1830-1950.

Secondly, when one says "how many X are in a lot?" it means a typical or standard lot, or the lots of some particular group. As such, it would be very unusual to ask about the percentage in sa lot, because the percentage would presumably be the same or similar in all lots of the same shipment o group.

Some more natural ways of asking what I think is close to the same question might be:

  • What is the percentage of apples in the shipment?
  • What is the percentage of apples in this lot
  • What percentage of the shipment consists of apples?
  • What percentage of the shipment do apples make up?
  • What percent of the shipment do apples make up?

Other forms are possible.

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