in the top 99%

mjor23vre

New Member
Greek
"He's in the top 99% of professionals I have worked with".
I had a foreign recommender submit the above sentence as part of a letter of recommendation at a university. He meant, "He's in the 99th percentile of professionals I have worked with".
Would a native English speaker understand what he originally meant? i.e., Could this pass in written or oral form with the intended meaning, or is it entirely nonsense?
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    "He's in the top 99% of professionals I have worked with".
    It should be "top 1%". When I was in school, we covered percentages pretty well in 5th grade. So it looks wrong to me.

    Would a native English speaker understand what he originally meant?
    That is hardly a language question: "would people understand something incorrect?" I think English speakers and Greek speakers are pretty much the same. Did you understand what he actually meant?
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Contrast this with "He's in the top 5% of wage earners," which means that he's in a group that is higher than the lower 95%.
     

    mjor23vre

    New Member
    Greek
    It should be "top 1%". When I was in school, we covered percentages pretty well in 5th grade. So it looks wrong to me.


    That is hardly a language question: "would people understand something incorrect?" I think English speakers and Greek speakers are pretty much the same. Did you understand what he actually meant?
    I did but unfortunately, only based on context.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    I'd understand it, because I'd recognize it as a mistake. I think no native speaker in their right mind would write that on purpose in a letter of recommendation. I'd imagine that the recommender was either not at all fluent in English (which I'd be able to tell from the rest of the letter) or intended to say "he's better than 99%" and mis-edited what he'd written.
     
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