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Friday, 9 September 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: People or persons?

People or persons? 
Your choice here is really no more than a stylistic one, since these words are essentially interchangeable. It's generally the case, however, that 'people' is now the standard usage and 'persons' is used only for formal purposes or when it's a substitute for 'bodies', as in; 'This lift is intended to hold no more than 13 persons.' Or 'The scanner can be used to identify dangerous objects held about the persons of terrorists.'

In your usual writing, 'people' is the preferred term.

'People gathered from all quarters of the town to hear the inspirational speaker.' Is much more natural than; 'Persons gathered from far and wide to listen to the preacher.'

Pic: A Red Kite flying overhead in East Riding of Yorkshire: a bird of prey re-introduced after near extinction.
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