People/Person/Persons/Peoples - Podcast Episode 12

Audio Transcript
Welcome to episode 12 of The English Sessions. Person Persons People Peoples. I am your host and English teacher, Mike Butler. These podcasts can help you improve your English! Together, we will talk about grammar… pronunciation… structure... and have some fun too. Remember to visit my website, to contact me for private lessons, and for more content.
You can also read the transcript of this audio on the website, as you listen to this episode.

Listen for these words today:

Sign - something that is publicly displayed that gives information or instructions.

Bottom line - the ‘bottom line’ is the most important information about something. It is the information that you need to know, after adding up all of the other information, like a math problem.

There seems to be some confusion around these four words, person, persons, people, peoples. Yes, all of them exist in English, but don’t worry, I will explain the differences.

Two of these words, person, and people, are the most important to remember. They are the most common of the four words. Person is just one human being. I am a person, you are a person, my aunt Sally is a person, your cousin Frank is a person, our world leaders are… well, sometimes I have my doubts.

Okay, so ‘person’ is just one human being. There is one person in the room. He is eating lunch. “People” is the common plural form of ‘person’. Yes, that’s right, it does not look like a plural noun and is a completely different word, but I assure you, it’s true. People is the common word to use, when there is more than one person. 1 person is in the room, 2 people are in the room. 3 people are eating lunch.

Okay, pretty basic, right? Then why does the English language want to confuse us   by having the words ‘persons’ and ‘peoples’ as well? Bottom line, language changes over time, and to be honest, you can turn this podcast off right now and just remember that common, modern English use is ‘person’ for one human being and ‘people’ for more than one human being.

Are you interested in learning about the other two? Okay, let’s do it. “Persons” IS a plural form of ‘person’, BUT, in modern use, ‘persons’ is often now used for formal or official contexts, perhaps in a court house or on an official government sign. For example, “All persons are prohibited, under penalty of the law”.

Okay all you people out there… then how do we use ‘peoples’? Again, it’s not as common, and if you think it is just going to confuse you, then turn the episode off now. “Peoples” refers to more than one “people”. Yes, that’s right!!! You can use “people” as the singular noun and “peoples” as the plural form. 1 people, 2 peoples. So, when do you say this? You say this when you are talking about different GROUPS, specifically different groups of people within the same ethnic or cultural group, or heritage. For example, there are many native peoples of North America, like the Cheyenne, the Navajo, the Hopi and so on.

Okay, so just remember, these last two, “persons” and “peoples” are not as common as “person” and “people”. The two common words to use do NOT have an ’s’ at the end of them. I am just one person, and you and I, we are two people.

Those other two words are used less often. (Persons and peoples). Here’s a way to remember, ‘persons’ and ‘peoples’ are are not the common words, so they are the ‘special’ words. They have a use that is different from what is usual (Oxford Dictionary). “Special” starts with the letter ’s’, and these words, peoples, persons, are the two that have an ’s’ at the end. So, the ’s’ words are the special words, used for special circumstances.

It may be fun, though, to find examples of ‘persons’ and ‘peoples’, and send them in to the podcast. Email me with pictures of signs that say ‘persons’, or some interesting text about different ‘peoples’ around the world. I would love to see what you find.

Any questions? Write to me at . Leave a message for me on the website, and I will play it on the podcast. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast so you won’t miss an episode. Visit for more content. Please rate and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Until next time, this is Mike signing off.
Bottom Line: Copyright: zimmytws / 123RF Stock Photo


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