Three-fifths – singular or plural?
This post is dedicated to the unknown surfer who landed on my blog after typing the following search term into their browser:
Three fifths, singular or plural?
An excellent question, and here’s the answer:
Look at these two correct sentences:
Three-fifths of the people are happy to take part in the survey.
Three-fifths of the work is already done.
The first is correct because ‘people’ is plural.
The second is correct because ‘work’ is singular.
You can usually trust your ears to tell you if the sentence is correct when referring to fractions. For example, the following just sounds horrible:
Three-fifths of the people is happy to take part in the survey.