largest portion / most / majority

meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, please see the following example survey question and results I made up.

Q. Which of these car interior designs (A-D) do you like best?

RESULTS (% who answered "I like this best")
Design A: 10%
Design B: 63%
Design C: 17%
Design D: 10%


Now, please see the following sentences, imagining they appear in the survey report. They are all trying to describe the same results.

1. The largest portion (63%) like design B best.
2. Most (63%) like design B best.
3. The majority (63%) like design B best.


- I've seen "largest portion" used this way, so if #1 is fine, I'll happily use it.
- I used "most" in #2, but 63% seems a little too small to use it (although I've seen it used for similar percentages in survey reports).
- I'm wondering if I should add some adjective to #3 (e.g. "A good majority"). But I suppose "the majority" (even when the percentage isn't mentioned) is clear enough for the readers to understand that it's the "largest portion".

Which of 1-3 would you say is most natural? Or is there a better way to describe the results?
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I would say '63% of those who answered said the liked B best'. Or simply '63% like B best'.

    If you are going to actually give the percentage, then there's no need to say it's the most or the majority or whatever - it's obvious.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    That's a good point and I totally agree (although survey reports often use the words I used even when they mention the actual percentages - see below). :thumbsup:

    Notably, a strong majority (73%) of CIOs believe that email will be the most common way for employees to communicate internally in 3 years’ time. Employees themselves are in agreement, though not with the same level of consensus: a bare majority (53%) feel that email will be the most common.
    Source: Email Considered More Effective Than IM for Workplace Communications

    How about if it was 43%? I learned in another thread that I can call it "plurality" in AmE, while it's still called "majority" (meaning 'relative majority') in BE. Would "The majority (43%) like design B best" work in BE?
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No. The 57% who said they liked A, C, or D best constitute the majority.

    If you really needed to describe 43%, then something like 'Less than half (43%) like B best' would be more accurate.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks for the suggestions, and it's good to know that I can't use "the majority" alone meaning "a relative majority".
    As for 'Less than half (43%) like B best', it wouldn't convey the intended meaning if the results were as follows.

    RESULTS (% who answered "I like this best")
    Design A: 7%
    Design B: 43%
    Design C: 40%
    Design D: 10%


    Here, it's clear that I can't use "majority" or "most". And I think "the largest portion" is unnatural anyway.
    So, am I right in thinking that the following versions are the best way to describe the results?


    4. The 43% who said they liked design B
    form/constitute the largest group.
    5. Those who like design B form/constitute the largest group (43%).
     
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