What is the difference in “persons” and “people”?


And when would they be used properly?

I grew up using only “people” then I feel like one day the words “persons” started to get used in society and I don’t know why or when to use it.

In: 209

Answer: People is more broad but persons is slightly more personal

People are in large idiots, some persons are fine

If English is not your first language, you can safely exclude “persons” from your vocabulary. The term seems to stem from crime reporting, where there may be one or more… persons. Because the singular and plural are different words, you are stuck with either “The crime was committed by one or more people” or “one or more persons”. I think “persons” is slightly less bad.

The difference largely depends on context.

*Fowler’s* has an interesting entry on the matter.

In a legal context, the difference can be important. It may also be used in formal speech to avoid ambiguity when referring to individuals operating separately rather than a group.

There’s also the distinction of a people (the people of Iraq, the Jewish people, etc.) Interestingly, I’ve heard *persons of color* is gaining traction as an alternative to *people of color*.

In the end, it’s a matter of style (style guide, I mean). Consult APA, MLA, Chicago, OUP, etc. and stick to the applicable one. That’s my advice.

Persons is the original plural form of person. However, many centuries ago people started using people as the plural form of persons even though it has a totally different etymology.

Today, most people use people as the plural of persons even though persons may persist in some more formal writings.

We use the singular person. And say it to be more inclusive, in place of ‘men’ is some words, like we say ‘chairperson’ not ‘chairman’.

But not sure on ‘persons’, although you do hear ‘Persons who want to make booking xyz, and so on..

People refers to a group e.g those people, we the people, people person.

Persons refers to more than one individual who may or may not be part of a group. It is largely used in formal context when ambiguity can arise from grouping people or persons together.

Unless you work in law, science or journalism you are unlikely to ever need to use “persons” as the distinction is not needed in most situations

Well when I started learning English, I bought an English-English dictionary. “People” is “persons” according to the dictionary.

I’ve used “people” when I didn’t know who they were and “persons” when I knew a majority by name.

Like they’re waiting for your guard to fall

So they can see it all and you’re so

Occupied with what other [persons](https://youtu.be/eZ7MFTBjJS8) are

Occupied with and vice versa

Person = (single) individual

Persons = (plural) individuals (The police have identified six persons of interest)

People = (single) a group or population of individuals (We, the people of these United States,…)

Peoples = (plural) many groups or populations (The Israeli and Palestinian peoples have long been at war.)

I think people is a bunch of “person” in the same place, but “Persons” differentiates between different people when you wanna. Like a school of fish or a sea of fishes.

So persons would be referring to multiple individual but separate “people” (a building full of black people, white people and Asian people, and it’s important to differentiate)

I was always taught that the plural of person is people. “Persons” just seems… I don’t know what the right word is other than _wrong_.

When in doubt, use “people”. “Persons” is only used in a few specific legal/technical contexts, and even then you’re generally fine to say “people” unless you’re a professional in the relevant field.

From my understanding, persons is more for multiple individuals. People refers more to an actual group. This distinction may or may not matter.

“persons” is a little more formal than “people”. Unlike “people”, it must also be specific (e.g. you can substitute “these people” with “these persons”, but you can’t substitute “people like me” with “persons like me”). Finally, “people” can be used as a singular (“the people of madagascar”), but “persons” can’t.