Is There a Difference Between Percent and Percentage? Unveiling the Mystery

Have you ever wondered if there is a difference between percent and percentage? Well, you’re not alone. Many people find themselves confused when it comes to using these two terms. At first glance, they may seem interchangeable, but in reality, there are some key differences between the two.

For starters, percent is an abbreviation of the phrase “per hundred.” It is usually used to express a proportion or a ratio of a number out of 100. On the other hand, percentage is the actual value or amount represented by a proportion or ratio expressed as a percent. So, while percent is a way to express a fraction as out of 100, percentage is the value that the fraction represents.

Understanding the difference between percent and percentage can make a big difference in accurately conveying information. Whether you’re calculating grades, taxes, or discounts, knowing when to use the correct term can avoid confusion and ensure that you’re getting accurate results. So, if you’re curious about the nuances of language, or just want to make sure that you’re using the correct terminology, read on to learn more about the differences between percent and percentage.

Uses of Percent and Percentage

Percent and percentage are two terms that are often used interchangeably. While they both refer to a portion of a whole, they have slightly different uses.

The term “percent” is used when we want to describe a part of a whole as a fraction of 100. For example, if we say that 50 out of 100 students passed the exam, we can also say that “50 percent of the students passed the exam”.

The term “percentage” is used when we want to refer to a number presented as a portion of 100, usually expressed as a figure followed by a percent sign. For instance, “the tax rate is 8 percent” or “the interest rate is 4.5 percent”.

Common Uses of Percent and Percentage

  • To express rates, such as tax rates, interest rates, or discounts
  • To show changes or differences, such as the percentage increase or decrease in sales or population
  • To evaluate proportions in research or surveys
  • To measure performance or achievement, such as a grade or rating

Percentage as a Table

Percentage can also be presented in a table format. Here’s an example of how it can be used:

Item Price Sales Tax Total Price
Shirt $30 8% $32.40
Pants $50 8% $54

In the table above, we can see that the sales tax for both items is expressed as a percentage, which is applied to the original price to calculate the total price.

Origin of the Word “Percent”

Percent and percentage are two terms that are commonly used in various fields including mathematics, finance, and science. The word “percent” originated from Latin, where “per” means “out of” and “centum” means “hundred.” Therefore, the term “percent” means “out of a hundred.”

  • The concept of a percentage was first introduced by John Dee, a British mathematician, astrologer, and/or Aleister Crowley protege in the 16th century. He used the symbol % to represent a percentage.
  • In the 19th century, the expression “percentum” was replaced with “per cent,” which was later abbreviated as %.
  • As the symbol gained popularity, it was eventually incorporated into the American lexicon, becoming a common symbol in the business and mathematical worlds by the early 20th century.

At present, the word percent has several meanings, including a fraction of one hundred, interest rates, and changes. As a result, the term is commonly utilized in financial contexts to represent taxes, stock dividends, and other percentages in investment vehicles.

Overall, while the terms percent and percentage are often used interchangeably, the former has Latin roots, while the latter came into existence in the 19th century. Because of its universal and historical importance, understanding the origin of the word percent is crucial in comprehending the context within which it is used in various fields.

How to Calculate Percent and Percentage

Calculating percent and percentage might seem like basic math, but many people still get confused with the terms. Percent and percentage are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference between the two. Percent refers to a fraction of 100, while percentage is used to express a rate per 100. So, when we say 25 percent, it means 25/100 or, 0.25, while 25 percentage means 25 per 100.

When calculating percent and percentage, the basic formula is:

Part/Whole x 100 = Percent/Percentage

  • Part: The specific value, amount, or quantity being considered.
  • Whole: The entire set, group, or quantity that the part is being compared to.
  • Percent/Percentage: The ratio of the part to the whole expressed as a fraction of 100.

Let’s take an example to understand the concept better. If you want to calculate what percentage of a pizza pie has been eaten, and 3 out of 8 slices have been consumed, you can use the formula:

3/8 x 100 = 37.5%

So, 37.5% of the pizza pie has been consumed.

Another example could be calculating percentage increase or decrease. Suppose a company’s net profit was $100,000 in the first year and it increased to $150,000 in the second year. To calculate the percentage increase, we can use this formula:

(New value – Old value)/Old value x 100 = Percentage increase

So, in this case, the percentage increase in the company’s net profit from the first year to the second would be:

(150,000 – 100,000)/100,000 x 100 = 50%

Therefore, the company’s net profit increased by 50% from the first year to the second year.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Confusing percent and percentage – Always remember that percent refers to a fraction of 100, while percentage is used to express a rate per 100.
  • Not using the correct formula – Using the correct formula is important to get accurate results. Always make sure to identify which part represents what and use the formula accordingly.
  • Forgetting to multiply by 100 – When calculating percent and percentage, it’s important to multiply by 100 to convert the fraction into a percentage value.


Calculating percent and percentage is a basic math skill that can be useful in a wide range of scenarios – from calculating discounts during shopping to analyzing data in business. Understanding the difference between percent and percentage and using the correct formulas is essential to get accurate results. However, with practice and attention to detail, anyone can master this skill.

Term Definition
Percent A fraction of 100
Percentage A rate per 100
Part/Whole x 100 = Percent/Percentage Formula to calculate percent and percentage
Percentage increase/decrease (New value – Old value)/Old value x 100

When to Use Percent and Percentage

Knowing when to use percent or percentage can be tricky, as they both express the same idea – a portion of a whole expressed in relation to a hundred. However, there are specific rules and guidelines to follow when choosing which one to use.

  • Use percent when you are expressing a percentage as a number. For example, “The interest rate is 5 percent.”
  • Use percentage when you are referring to the concept of a percentage. For example, “The percentage of people who completed the survey was low.”
  • Use percentage when expressing a range or a comparison. For example, “The percentage of people who voted in the last election was higher than the percentage who voted in the previous one.”

It’s important to note that sometimes, percent or percentage can be used interchangeably without affecting the meaning of the sentence. However, sticking to the rules above can make your writing more concise and clear.

Here are some examples to help illustrate the difference between percent and percentage:

Correct Usage Incorrect Usage
The percentage of students who passed the exam was 90. The percent of students who passed the exam was 90.
She calculated the percent increase in sales. She calculated the percentage increase in sales.

In conclusion, understanding the appropriate usage of percent and percentage can help to improve the clarity and accuracy of your writing. Remember, use percent when expressing a number and percentage when referring to the concept of a percentage.

Examples of Percent and Percentage in Real Life

Percent and percentage are often used interchangeably in everyday language, but they have slightly different meanings. In mathematical terms, percent means “per hundred” while percentage is simply a way to express a portion or share of something. Understanding the difference between the two can prevent confusion and miscommunication.

  • Calculating Tips: When you dine in a restaurant, it is customary to leave a tip for the waiter or waitress who served you. Most people tip a certain percentage of their total bill, usually between 15% and 20%. For example, if your bill is $50 and you want to leave a 20% tip, you would calculate 20% of $50, which is $10.
  • Credit Card Interest: Many credit cards charge interest on balances that are not paid in full each month. The interest rate is typically expressed as an annual percentage rate (APR), but it is applied to your balance each month. For example, if you have a $1,000 balance on your credit card and the APR is 18%, you would be charged 1.5% interest each month ($15).
  • Sales Tax: When you purchase goods or services, you may be charged a percentage of the total as sales tax. The percentage varies by state and locality, but it is usually between 5% and 10%. For example, if you buy a $100 item and the sales tax rate is 8%, you would pay an additional $8 in sales tax.

In addition to these everyday examples, percent and percentage are also commonly used in statistics and business.

For example, a company may calculate the percentage of sales that come from each product line to determine where to focus their marketing efforts. Or a researcher may report the percent of participants in a study who experienced a particular side effect of a drug.

Understanding the meaning of percent and percentage and how they are used in different contexts is an essential skill in many fields. To help visualize the difference between the two terms, consider the following table:

Term Meaning Example
Percent Per hundred 50% means 50 per hundred, or 50/100
Percentage Portion or share 50% of 200 means 50% as a share of 200, or 100

By understanding the difference between percent and percentage and how they are used in real-life scenarios, you can effectively communicate numerical information and make informed decisions that involve percentages.

Common Mistakes When Using Percent and Percentage

Using percent and percentage interchangeably is a common mistake people make in writing and speaking.

Percent is a noun and means “a portion or a part of every hundred.”1 Percentage, on the other hand, is both a noun and an adjective and means “the rate or proportion per hundred of one thing with respect to another.”2

Here are some common mistakes people make when using percent and percentage:

  • Using percent as an adjective, for example, “a percent change,” instead of “a percentage change.”
  • Mixing up the placement of percent and number, for example, “50% of 200 is 100” instead of “50% of 200 is 100.”
  • Using percent and percentage interchangeably, for example, “a 50 percent increase in sales” instead of “a 50 percentage increase in sales.”

To avoid these mistakes, it is important to understand the difference between percent and percentage and to use them correctly in context.

Term Definition
Percent A noun that means “a portion or a part of every hundred.”
Percentage A noun and an adjective that means “the rate or proportion per hundred of one thing with respect to another.”

Always remember to use percent when referring to a specific value and percentage when referring to a rate or proportion. By doing so, you can avoid common mistakes and communicate more effectively in both written and spoken contexts.


  1. “Percent.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,
  2. “Percentage.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,

Comparing Percent and Percentage to Other Mathematical Concepts

Percent and percentage are not the only mathematical concepts that deal with numbers and expressions. Here are some other concepts that you can compare with them:

  • Ratio – A ratio is a mathematical expression that represents the relationship between two numbers. For example, a ratio of 2:1 represents that for every 2 of one thing, there is 1 of another. Percentages are ratios expressed as a percentage or fraction of 100.
  • Decimal – A decimal is a numerical system that uses a base of 10. It is generally used to express numbers greater than or equal to 1. Percentages are often expressed as decimals, by dividing percent value by 100.
  • Fraction – A fraction is a mathematical expression representing a part of a whole, and it is expressed as one number divided by another. A percentage can be converted to a fraction in which the denominator is 100.

These mathematical concepts are interrelated and can be used together in calculations. For example, if you want to convert a percentage to its decimal equivalent, you can divide it by 100. Similarly, if you want to convert a decimal to a percentage, you can multiply it by 100.

Below is the table that shows the relationship between percentage, decimal, and fraction:

Percentage Decimal Fraction
100% 1.0 1/1
50% 0.5 1/2
25% 0.25 1/4
10% 0.1 1/10

As you can see from the table, percentages, decimals, and fractions are all ways of expressing the same quantity. Understanding how they relate to each other can help you perform calculations more efficiently.

Is there a difference between percent and percentage?

1. What do percent and percentage mean?

Percent and percentage are both used to express values as parts of a total that is 100. For example, 50 percent or 50 percentage both mean 50 out of 100.

2. Can they be used interchangeably?

In most cases, percent and percentage can be used interchangeably without affecting the meaning of a sentence. However, some style guides may recommend using one over the other in certain contexts.

3. Is one more formal than the other?

Not necessarily. Both percent and percentage can be used in formal and informal contexts. It depends on the tone and style of the writing or speaking.

4. Are there any differences in spelling or pronunciation?

No, percent and percentage are spelled and pronounced similarly. The only difference is that percent is an abbreviated form of “per cent”, while percentage is a compound noun.

5. Which one is more commonly used?

Percent is slightly more common than percentage in everyday language and informal writing. However, both are widely used and accepted in all types of communication.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope this article has helped answer your questions about the difference between percent and percentage. Remember, while there may be some nuances in usage, both terms generally mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. If you want to learn more about language and grammar, visit us again soon!

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