Say someone owns 30% of the shares of a company. Then suppose that they increase their number of shares by 50%. This last sentence is ambiguous. It could mean that they increase their number of shares to a total of 45%, or to a total of 80%. It depends whether we 50% is relative to their current shares or to the total possible shares.

Are there words or terms to delineate between the two concepts? This would apply whenever the unit of measurement is a rate, proportion, etc. For example, inflation, interest rates, etc.

  • $\begingroup$ this seems to be english language question, not economics question $\endgroup$
    – 1muflon1
    Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ How do economists specify which meaning they are intending? $\endgroup$
    – Eoin
    Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


There are percent (%) and there are percentage points (%p).

  • In your example, an increase from 30% to 45% is an increase of 50% and at the same time an increase of 15%p.
  • An increase in interest rate from 1% to 2% is a 100% increase and a 1%p increase at the same time.

See also this thread.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. Would 1 basis point increase therefore be a .01%p increase ? $\endgroup$
    – Eoin
    Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Eoin, yes, it would be. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 7:02

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