Tag Archives: Peoples

People vs. Peoples

What is the difference in the definition of “people” and “peoples”?  When I was in grammar school, I learned that the singular form of the word was “person” and the plural was “people”.  But suddenly, as an adult, I’m seeing professional publications all over the place with the word “peoples” in it.  Like the word “people” isn’t quite plural enough any more, we have to add an “s” to the end of it.

I did a little research and discovered that the dictionary allows for an “s” on the end of the word if it refers to an entire community of people, like “the Aboriginal peoples.”  But tell me, doesn’t it mean exactly the same thing if it says “the Aboriginal people”?

This probably is particularly bugging me because the Bible translation I’ve been using recently (English Standard Version) constantly refers to people as peoples.  Grrr….  And it’s THE BIBLE, so it can’t be wrong, can it?  Well, I don’t think the Bible is wrong, just the editors who decided to put an “s” on the end of all references to people in it.  Even if the editors are adhering to the principle above, they’re still getting it wrong.  When David writes in the Psalms about “all people”, he’s referring to everyone – not a particular group of people, yet they consistently write “all peoples”.

I maintain that the word “peoples” is not really a word and all use of is should cease and desist now.

Now that I’m writing about it, the word just looks weird to me.  Don’t you hate it when that happens?

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