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I sometimes read newspapers aloud to practice pronunciation, but encounter the issue of percentage points, e.g. 20% and 31% differ by "11 percentage points" (or just "11 points" for brevity). For a concrete example, I recently encountered this:

screenshot of newspaper article
……根据《纽约时报》10月31日的民调,拜登在威斯康星州的支持率超出特朗普约11%
紧张混乱笼罩美国选举日,环球时报,2020年11月4日

I'm unsure how to pronounce "11%" here. The obvious thing to say is 百分之十一, but I'm worried that might be incorrect because it's referring to percentage points.

Question: How do you read "11%" aloud when it refers to percentage points?

5 Answers 5

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This is an article introducing the percentages and percentage points from the National Bureau of Statistics: link

Thought it did not explicitly say how they would be written, from the last sentence of the article:

从上述资料中,我们可以说:国内生产总值中,第一产业占的比重,1993年比1992年下降3.6个百分点(18.2-21.8=-3.6);但不能说下降3.6%。

We can see that for perctage point, percentage points would not be written with “%”, but with “个百分点” explicitly.

Also, “xx个百分点” is also how percentage points should read in Chinese.

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  • And you can omit “百分” and say “三点六个点”. For example 11月19日:“农产品批发价格200指数”比昨天上涨0.02个点
    – tsh
    Nov 20, 2020 at 3:12
  • @tsh your example is used for "指数". I'm not quite sure whether "百分" can be omitted when only percentage are involved.
    – fefe
    Nov 21, 2020 at 4:20
  • Although it's not universally omittable in every context, n个点 is often used in e.g. commerce and finance to refer to percentage (points).
    – xngtng
    Jan 19, 2021 at 13:06
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You’re correct 百分之十一 is right.

In Guoyu % is also read:

So: 十一pā is also an acceptable reading.

You can also look up: 百分点 - I believe it’s on the new HSK vocab you posted somewhere.

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In Malaysia, when we read 11% in Chinese, we will say "十一巴仙"

巴仙 is mimicking the sound per-cent.

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  • Interesting. This is the first time I'm hearing any Chinese communities using this. In sound borrowing, I think I've heard of someone saying 11葩 in Mandarin. Correct me if I'm wrong. Nov 21, 2020 at 12:22
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    Yes because n Malaysia, Chinese, English and Bahasa Malaysia. Depending on the family background and growing environment, the proficiency level is different. As general, Malaysian Chinese can speak well in 3 languages, other than our own dialect like hakka, hokkien or fuchao ect. So it is commonly that we may mix the languages in our casual conversation. But in formal, we would speak in more proper style, in this case.... say during a presentation , it would be proper to say 百分之十一.
    – Disrudog
    Nov 22, 2020 at 1:15
  • @DanielCheung Taiwanese people say 十一趴
    – Victor
    Jan 17, 2021 at 2:01
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To make it simpler, 30% is "10个百分点" more than 20%, but is "百分之50" larger.

That is to say, "10个百分点" is the subtraction of the two numbers before %, while "百分之50" is the same as %50 in English which describes the proportion. And you can easily tell that, when you want to use "百分点", you must make sure the two percentages have the same "base" so that they can be compared.

In your sentence, "...超出特朗普约11%" describes votes_counts_Biden/votes_counts_Trump=111%, so it should be read as "百分之十一"。

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11% always means eleven percent, never means eleven percentage points, so it is always read as 百分之十一 (or 十一趴 in Taiwan), but is never read as 十一个百分点.

As for eleven percentage points, it must be written as either 十一个百分点 or 11个百分点, or abbreviated to 11个点, but is never written as 11%.

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