I came across this statement. Is this correct? I am specifically confused at the part where "a" comes after "are".

  • Yes, it is correct. "Are" is referring to "The Japanese", which is plural. "A" is referring to the group "hard-working people", and while there are many in a group, it is a single group of people. – Zibbobz Aug 26 '13 at 17:05
  • Also, if the Japanese were the only (or most extremely) hard-working people and that comparison to other people was a point, you might use "the hard-working people". "A hard-working people" means the Japanese are one example of hard-working people. – fixer1234 Mar 26 '17 at 21:11

Yes it's correct. People is a noun like any other. It can be a collective noun standing alone as in:

There were people everywhere in the hall.

Or it can be a singular noun, taking 'a' or 'the', referring to a race, nationality or culture of people. In this form it can also become plural - peoples.

The plural verb 'are' is used because it belongs with The Japanese [people], a plural collective noun. Compare:

American crocodiles are a species with the scientific name Crocodylus acustus.


Neanderthals were a house-proud race who liked to return to home comforts, fresh excavations of caves in Gibraltar have revealed.

  • Myna, strange, Merriam-Webster doesn't have an entry for "peoples". It reads: "people: "Inflected Form(s): plural people". – user19148 Aug 26 '13 at 17:16
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    @Carlo_R. : But AHD and Collins do. I usually stick with them. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 26 '13 at 17:49
  • Would the downvoter like to give a reason? – Mynamite Aug 26 '13 at 18:14
  • @Carlo_R. There’s a huge difference between saying these people and saying these peoples. – tchrist Aug 26 '13 at 23:07
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    @Carlo_R. If we posit that “the Italians” comprise a single people, and I think we can, then of course it is these people, these Italians. – tchrist Aug 26 '13 at 23:12

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