"Deux pour cent de la population a voté pour lui."

Translation:Two percent of the population voted for him.

July 16, 2020

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What is the rule about using singular or plural with "pour cent" ? Exercises I saw before this one seemed to suggest that if the number before "pour cent" is one, the verb is conjugated in the 3rd person singular (il / elle) and if the number is greater than one, the conjugation should be in the 3rd person plural (ils / elles). That seems logical, but then we suddenly come to this sentence that breaks the pattern. Shouldn't the verb be "ont voté"... ?
Could a moderator please explain ???? Thanks.

Un pour cent de la population a plus de cent ans. --> 3rd person singular because it is only one percent.
Dix pour cent de la population ne travaillent pas. --> 3rd person plural because the number is ten.


It's a fraction, less than one. I think that logic is no help when talking about less than one.

It can't be singular because it's less than one, but singular can only mean "one".

That leaves plural as the only remaining option, and that doesn't make sense either!

Collocation is the only solution. So singular and plural are both used, in both languages, and it might be fun (but pointless) to argue about it.


I believe it was Sitesurf herself who said that one and fractions less than one use the third person singular and that numbers above use the plural so I hope she can grace this discussion with a comment.


Hi Doggydoodo1 & Roody-Roo,
Yes, my understanding was that a number equal to or less than one uses the third person singular conjugation; any number greater than one uses the third person plural, BUT I have done some research since my post above and learned that this rule is too basic to be very useful in the long run. For one thing, any percent between 1 and 99 is less than one (whole), yet the example sentence uses the third person plural. It turns out that the rules for singular and plural are a bit flexible, but there is a general trend. Also, Roody-Roo is right that our basic rule's logic falls apart with fractions, some of which are plural in themselves. Examples:
Les trois quarts de la population ont les cheveux roux. BUT
Plus de la moitié de la population a moins de 18 ans, et son avenir doit nous préoccuper en priorité.

The following websites offer the best explanations I have found so far : http://bdl.oqlf.gouv.qc.ca/bdl/gabarit_bdl.asp?id=1597



The simpler logic is that the French plural starts at 2.

La majorité a... Une moitié a...
Deux tiers ont...
Trois quarts ont...

What Le Robert doesn't explain is that there is a difference between "un tiers des spectateurs" and "le tiers des spectateurs". In the former case, "un" means "one", so the verb sounds much better in the singular, while in the latter case, "le" is not a number so the emphasis is shifted to "spectateurs", hence the verb in the plural.

There are other touchy cases like "la plupart" (+ verb in the plural) or "la majorité" (+ verb in the singular or the plural depending on the emphasis).


could this also be "...voted for her"?


Sorry, but not in this sentence. To say "...voted for her", the French would be "...voté pour elle". Here "elle" is used because it follows the preposition "pour". See #5 on this helpful website : https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/stressed-pronouns/
The confusing thing for students of French and English is that some of the pronouns have different grammatical functions, so you will see "lui' meaning "her" when "lui" functions as an indirect object as in "Je lui ai donné un livre." Hope that helps.


Why "a voté"? Deux (something) ONT voté, for my understanding! Which exception is this from the logical understanding?


Copy and pasted: "2 percent of the population voted for her" how is this wrong

  1. Spell out the numeral. This is a language lesson, so you have to know how to spell the words.

  2. Pour lui = for him. Pour elle = for her.

  • 1797

Singular or plural with "pour cent"?

Here we have sigular; but with another Duo case "Dix pour cent de la population ne travaillent pas." https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/40695512/Dix-pour-cent-de-la-population-ne-travaillent-pas.

Both cases are with "pour cent de la population", and both are above 1% (deux and dix), but one is singular and another is plural.

Anyone give an good explanation please?


After spending too much time thinking about it, my sense is that this inconsistency on Duo simply reflects the inconsistency of actual usage "on the street", regardless of what grammar books say. Strictly speaking, the compliment (population) is a singular collective noun AND the percentage is clearly a number is less than 2, so the verb in the example you mentioned should be in the 3rd person singular like in this exercise. That said, even the grammar guru, "Le Robert" notes that singular and plural verb conjugations are used in sentences like this in the real world, but it recommends following their grammar rule of thumb: When dealing with percentages and numbers less than 2, the verb should agree with the complement. It gives the example of a percentage + the word "gens" and recommends that the verb be in the 3rd person plural to agree with the plural complement "gens". See: https://dictionnaire.lerobert.com/guide/accord-du-verbe-avec-une-fraction-un-pourcentage-ou-un-nombre-decimal
This fits in with what Roodie and other users on this forum have said. I think we students have to be get used to such inconsistencies in a living language like French. After all, English is full of inconsistencies too and probably every native speaker uses expressions that are technically ungrammatical on a daily basis.

  • 1797

So it looks like this:

Even though the rule defines this way, the other way is also acceptable.


Yes, that is what Le Robert says, but remember that Le Robert is a grammar authority in France. As you noticed, Duo includes casual language in some exercises, but "he" really shouldn't be marking people wrong for being grammatically correct or even a bit formal. If that happens to you, please report it.


I am also confused by deux pour cent ' a voté' instead of 'ont voté"?


Why isn't « ... la population a lui voté » accepted?


You need the word "pour" here. "Voter ...pour {someone/ something}" is a fixed expression in French.


Duo, please note that in the UK 'percent' is incorrect, and 'per cent' is correct, as, indeed, it is in French.

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