How many is ‘everyone’?

People tend to use terms like ‘everyone’, ‘most’, and ‘a lot’ to refer to almost any number of items. These words have been rendered almost useless because of the lack of specificity.

EVERYONE has a beard these days.

A LOT of people show up late to work.

MOST of the kids had the flu.

What is the tipping point that brings the number from SOME PEOPLE to everyone? Is it quantifiable? It all depends on context. If there are only two variables, beard or no beard, it should take a fairly significant percentage to get there. If there are a lot of variables, color of shirts, A LOT of yellow shirts might only be 10% because of the number of options. Next time, make people clarify when they make those broad generalizations.

MOST of my students are reading below grade level.

Really? How many?

A LOT of people that I talked to said that this 1 to 1 program isn’t working.

Do tell. How many? Using what criteria?

EVERYONE uses that shortcut to get it done.

Wow, everyone? So no one completes the process as written?

Don’t fall into this habit. Using actual numbers and percentages is much more meaningful. Data shouldn’t be summarized using such vague terms if you want it to be impactful.