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It has been suggested to me that "fellow" is the corresponding singular version of the word "folks" in the context of "hey folks" or "listen folks" but it doesn't have the same gender neutrality.

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  • Seems this question has been asked before. Need to check past questions on ELU.
    – Kris
    Jan 22, 2014 at 6:44
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/q/50704/14666
    – Kris
    Jan 22, 2014 at 6:47
  • @Kris, I searched but couldn't find one that provided a singular version, that one is similar though.
    – travis
    Jan 22, 2014 at 15:23
  • From @John Lawler's comment below, it sounds like it is a frozen plural, at least in the way I am using it. (vocative)
    – travis
    Jan 22, 2014 at 15:26

2 Answers 2

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There is no direct singular word for folks. It is almost like the word "guys" (but more gender neutral).

If an announcer comes out and says, "Howdy folks!" They are speaking to a group or crowd. You do not say folks when speaking to one person nor do you say folk. You would simply say "Howdy Mister/Madame/Whatever". Folks is usually a very friendly word that conveys a down to earth attitude. I think the closest word to takes its singular place would be friend.

If you see a group of people walking by that you know- "Howdy folks".

If you see a person walking by that you know - "Howdy friend" or just "Howdy". When you gave the "Howdy Folks" to the group walking by the use of folks noted that there was an individual howdy for everyone.

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Maybe this link can help you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folk

folks in the plural form means "people". The singular of "people" is person, not "fellow".

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    The plural of person is persons. People has no singular. Folks in the vocative sense, or when meaning people generically, is a frozen plural and doesn't have a singular either. Jan 21, 2014 at 22:47
  • I see. I'm curious, then, why The New Oxford American Dictionary lists people and persons as the plurals of person. Incidentally, would you please explain what you mean by "folks in the vocative sense" in this context because I don't know "vocative" in the sense that you're using it. Thank you.
    – Babs
    Jan 21, 2014 at 23:18
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    Vocative means "direct address", as in Hey, folks, .... It is effectively a noun being used in the second person; normally nouns can only be third person. As for why dictionaries write what they write, my guess would be to indicate that persons and people have the same denotation (though not the same connotation), and that many people use person in the singular when people won't work for them. This does not of course mean that everybody does so, or even that many people do. It's a workaround, that's all. Jan 22, 2014 at 0:11

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