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This people or these people?

Different sources suggest different ways. What's the right way and why?

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Related: Person, Persons, People, Peoples. –  RegDwigнt Nov 18 '10 at 15:08
    
I saw this question, and it's not really what I was looking for. thx –  Anderson Silva Nov 18 '10 at 15:34

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I too have seen some conflicting articles on this. In general, I use it as follows:

If I'm using people as the plural of person, then I treat it as plural.

These people are going to be the death of me.

If people is referring to a community, cultural group, etc. then I treat it as singular.

This indigenous people was subjugated by invaders from afar.

I'll also note that used in this last sense, peoples (meaning multiple cultural groups, or what have yoU) is also valid and would then be plural.

These indigenous peoples were all prospering at the turn of the century.

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This was sort of my approach. Thx –  Anderson Silva Nov 18 '10 at 15:35
1  
This is exactly correct. People is unfortunately a confusing noun, it that it acts as singular form for the original meaning, but also the plural form of 'person' in Modern English. –  Noldorin Nov 18 '10 at 15:45
    
I actually prefer to always treat "people" as plural, correctness be damned, because it will always sound OK that way - it just might not mean exactly the same thing. –  Marthaª Nov 18 '10 at 18:08

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