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People or Persons?

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

By
Mignon Fogarty

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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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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