A few weeks ago the topic was about OVERHEAR/EAVESDROP and in it I had written: “… you hear what other people are saying …”. A nogger messaged me asking why I used the word “people” and not “PEOPLES“. As it is a question which also comes up regularly in the classroom, I think that today we should look at this word.

Interestingly, students are often divided about “peoples” and:

1. either use it incorrectly, as in: “How many peoples are you in your family?”
2. or think that the word doesn’t exist.

In the first case, “PEOPLE” must be used because it is the plural form of “person”. Notice the difference:

  • I was the only person in the classroom
  • there were so many people at the concert last night.

In these situations we are thinking about the number, one or more than one.

However, those who think that peoples doesn’t exist are also wrong. For example, it is correct to talk about the peoples of Europe. Here we are interested in the different nationalities, not in a number. And the peoples of a country? Sure, for countries which consist of different ethnic groups.

So please, next time you see or hear the word peoples, don’t assume that it’s a mistake.

Use the language

Tell other noggers about the peoples who make up your country.

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