Which is correct? `A small percentage of the students is worked up about the fee hike’ or `A small percentage of the students are worked up……..’?

People who are fond of grammar would argue that when the word `percentage’ is preceded by the definite article `the’, then the verb is usually singular. It doesn’t really matter if the noun preceding the verb is singular or plural.

*The percentage of students from Delhi is relatively small.

Although the noun (`students’) is plural, the verb that follows (`is’) is singular.

*The percentage of people willing to participate keeps decreasing every year.

When you talk about `a percentage’, on the other hand, it can be followed by a singular or plural verb. It depends on the noun which follows `percentage’.

*A very small percentage of the students are from Delhi.

*I’m told that a small percentage of Padma’s income goes to charity.

Source: ‘Know Your English’ (The Hindu) – August 07, 2006 

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