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People or Persons?

Technically, "people" and "persons" have different meanings. Find out which one you should use.

By
Mignon Fogarty,
February 3, 2011

People or Persons?

Nowadays, "people" is almost always the right choice when you are talking about more than one person.

Some dictionaries don't even include "persons" as the plural of "person" anymore, and the few dictionaries that do include "persons" note that it is uncommon, archaic, or going out of style.

Traditionally, "people" was proper when referring to a mass of people (e.g., Squiggly couldn't believe how many people were at the wrestling match), and "persons" was proper when referring to a distinct number of individuals (e.g., Squiggly noted that eight persons showed up for the book club meeting).
 

 

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