In "I Keep Six Honest Serving Men" of Kipling there is a line:

But different folk have different views;

Notice, the word folk here is obviously in plural, but has not -s ending. Kipling had no need to change the grammar in that point - folk instead of folks does not change neither rhythm nor rhyme. That means, he felt this variant as more suitable for plural here. So, it is absolutely English, I only have to understand it.

But in dictionaries I see:

folk or folks [PLURAL] INFORMAL people in general (Macmillan)

Free Oxford gives more interesting variant:

folk (also folks) informal [treated as plural] People in general.

So, according to the last, ‘folk’ can be considered as plural of ‘person’. But in the same dictionary, or in several others that I checked, (including paper big Macmillan or Concise Oxford), in the article for ‘person’ you will never see ‘folk’ as a plural form for it.

The question Should it be folk or folks? has nothing in common with my question. The mentioned problem is about the plural form of the word folk. It is NOT the case of the mentioned Kipling's line. And it is already written in the question. (Obviously, somebody reacts to the titles not reading the content.) I am talking about the folk as plural for the person -the problem never touched in that other question.

  • I asked a similar question here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/50704/…
    – Shoe
    Oct 5, 2019 at 11:09
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is predicated on the assumptions that synonyms are always totally interchangeable, and that a given dictionary should give an extensive (or even exhaustive) list of synonyms for each headword. Oct 5, 2019 at 15:01
  • @EdwinAshworth The question has nothing in common with your comment.
    – Gangnus
    Oct 5, 2019 at 21:55
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    Folks is always informal at best, while folk is not. It may also be a transatlantic and trans-century difference. Oct 5, 2019 at 22:12
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    "[A]ccording to [this dictionary], ‘folk’ can be considered as plural of ‘person’." NO. As Kate says, It isn't listed in the dictionary as a plural of 'person' because it's a different word with a similar meaning (just as 'cars' isn't the plural of 'automobile'). Your question is identical in form to "Is ‘cars’ a plural form for ‘automobile’ or not?" Oct 6, 2019 at 13:43

1 Answer 1


Yes, folk means people, as in the English county names Norfolk and Suffolk, meaning the northern and southern people (of that region). It isn't listed in the dictionary as a plural of person because it's a different word with a similar meaning (just as cars isn't the plural of automobile).

  • I thought that, too, till now. Please, show, how your explanation a) works for the Kipling's line and b) sits with the article of the Free Oxford. As far as I see, you are reacting to the title, not even trying to answer the question.
    – Gangnus
    Oct 5, 2019 at 22:07
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    I don't understand your hostile attitude. Kipling's line means 'different people have different views', and Free Oxford says that folk is the word and folks a variant of it. The plural of person is people; as Edwin says, you can't expect a dictionary to list all possible synonyms. Oct 6, 2019 at 7:35
  • 1. I am merely reminding you the rules of the logic. It is not aggression. 2. Now you are talking on the subject of the question. And yes, this reading is the only one that does not suppose that Kipling breaks the grammar rules. 3. I never asked for the list of synonyms (that explain the meaning of the nest word), but I do suppose that dictionary shows all correct irregular plural forms for a word. And I had never met with another irregular plural not covered by the appropriate dictionary article. Even in the weakest dictionaries.
    – Gangnus
    Oct 7, 2019 at 15:51
  • But 'folk' is not an irregular plural; as I said in my original answer, it is a different word. There is no question of Kipling's breaking the rules, or any possible different reading. You are making difficulties where none exist. Oct 7, 2019 at 16:54

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