People, Persons or Peoples: Difference and Correct Use

Correct Use of these Confused words 

People, Persons or Peoples

These words are considered as confused words in English. These three words can create a lot of questions in your mind. 

If you are asked the plural for the word person would be people or persons? The fast answer will be that people is correct and persons is wrong. 
If people is plural for person, what does the word persons stand for?

Read the post below to get all the answers in detail.

There was a time in history when it was put forward that grammatically, persons should be the preferred plural any time more than one person was referred to as a countable noun, and people should be preferred for uncountable nouns (“I’ve known a lot of people like that”). That practice did not become standard, and nowadays, the plural persons is only considered correct in legal contexts and, occasionally, when deliberately referring to humans individually rather than collectively. In the legal world, including law enforcement, persons is used regularly. 

Persons are Individuals

If you use person as singular in a sentence, that would be like: “There is one person standing in line at the bank.” You are referring to a single individual.
When you shift from singular to plural, you may then encounter the term “persons.” This would be used to refer to multiple individuals, but “persons” is used primarily in legal and official contexts rather than in casual speech and colloquial conversation.

Used in Public Notice like:

For instance, an elevator may have a sign that says it only has the capacity for up to eight persons.
A police report may say that they are still seeking persons of interest in relation to a crime. When using “persons,” you are emphasizing the individuality of the persons involved.
Another example to use persons in legal contexts would be
“The police department will reopen the missing persons case soon.”

People Are Collectives

In everyday conversation, you can usually use “people” as the plural form of “person.” There is a very important difference to consider if you are using it in a more official or formal context, however. Whereas “persons” emphasizes individuality, “people” emphasizes the group as as collective.

Although it may not be an official rule, “persons” is usually only used to refer to a smaller group of people where you can count the individuals. “People” can be used for larger groups where it may be more difficult (or impossible) to count everyone to which you are referring.

In a casual sense, you could say that there were over One hundred people at the conference. In an official sense, you could look at the official attendance records and say (hypothetically) that there were 125 persons at the conference.


This may sound like a plural of a plural and this is because “people” can refer to a group as a unified collective.

Peoples is only used in cases when it is necessary to distinguish between ethnic groups within the same geographical or cultural context.

•Use “peoples” when you’re talking about more than one group of people.
For Example:
•This scale was used by American Indian peoples.

Each group is a singular entity. Several groups, then, are the “peoples.”

Watch the video below to understand in better way.

I hope you have got all your questions answered.
Keep Learning!
Click to read about Common misused words in English

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!
Scroll to Top