The words per cent, which give us the English words percent, mean per one hundred. A percentage is a way of representing a proportion, or fraction of something. In fractions and decimal fractions the proportion is represented out of one, where as in percentages it is out of 100. So if we have a jar of 100 sweets we would say that 0.5 or ½ of them were mint if we were using fractions, or 50% are mint if we are using percentages.

This can be very useful for a number of reasons. For example if we say 13/25 ths of the sweets are mints it is difficult to imagine how much this is, but if we say 52% (% is the symbol for percent) then that is much easier.