You are here:

General Writing and Grammar Help/usage of the word "fraction"

Advertisement


Question
Dear Ted,
I'm not sure if I'm using the word "fraction" correctly in the following sentences. In other words, do the following sentences make sense and are they grammatically correct?
1. In Los Angeles, this Gucci bag costs only a fraction of what it costs in Beijing.
2. In Los Angeles, you pay only a fraction of what you would pay for the same bag in Beijing.

Answer
Dear Glen:

I'm not sure if I'm using the word "fraction" correctly in the following
sentences. In other words, do the following sentences make sense and are they
grammatically correct?
1. In Los Angeles, this Gucci bag costs only a fraction of what it costs in
Beijing.
2. In Los Angeles, you pay only a fraction of what you would pay for the same
bag in Beijing.

*** Yes, the sentences are correct.  By using "a fraction of," you are indicating that
the cost is LESS in Los Angeles than it is in Beijing.  

I "think" [meaning I cannot PROVE] what "a fraction of" is generally used when you do not
have more precise information.  "A fraction of" could be 10% or it could be 90%.  If the
difference in cost is 50%, we usually say "half the price."  It is better to give the exact fraction, because the information is definitely stated.  A store may advertise that everything is greatly reduced, but that doesn't give definitive information.  

If you had time to visit just one store, wouldn't you go to the store that is having a 50% off sale rather than a story that advertises "all prices are reduced"?

I was watching television last night and saw an advertisement for "Chris Miller Furniture Store."  The store is having its annual "end of summer sale."  The problem is that this furniture store has NOTHING BUT sales.  I am not exaggerating:  there is ALWAYS some kind of sale at the store.  Next week, after the "end of summer sale," they will probably have a "beginning of autumn sale."  

And you wouldn't believe how many people are duped by this kind of advertising.

Ted

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

Experience

I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.