English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The Government has decided to introduce the new scheme for the upliftment of poor.

Should it be "of the poor" or not?

share|improve this question
Without the definite article, poor does not refer to anything in particular, certainly not the poor people as should be. – Kris Sep 19 '12 at 11:39
Upliftment? How about "...for uplifting the poor." (I'm not going down the no-such-word road, but it does seem rare or unusual at best). – J.R. Sep 19 '12 at 15:00
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, the poor is correct.

The reason is that poor on its own is an adjective, which invites the question "poor what?". To turn it definitively into a noun it needs to be the poor.

Having said that, I did find a quote where just poor is used, in the Hindustan Times:

The Delhi government does not have an estimate of the number of poor living in the metropolis.

This indicates that it may be an acceptable Indian-English idiom.

As an aside, upliftment is awkward. Uplift is better; improvement or betterment better still.

share|improve this answer
The number of poor is acceptable everywhere, I'd say. – Matt E. Эллен Sep 19 '12 at 11:09
Yes, because it implies 'people' - the number of poor people, which is evidently correct. – Guy F-W Sep 19 '12 at 11:16
However @GuyF-W, "... for the upliftment of poor." definitely doesn't work in BrEng. Poor is an uncountable noun there, so it needs an article or to be turned into an adjective. – Matt E. Эллен Sep 19 '12 at 11:25
Yes indeed. Thanks for the clarification. – Guy F-W Sep 19 '12 at 11:29
+1 for pointing out that upliftment is an awkward word (espoused by Indian English in particular?). Agreed, betterment is much better. – FumbleFingers Sep 19 '12 at 12:54

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.