How many people?

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Thread: How many people?

  1. #1

    How many people?

    While talking to my angel just now I happened to say "more than one people" and she corrected me saying that it should be "more than one person". Of course I immediately ran through all the other things that I could have said and this particular phrase does stand out as an apparent anomaly. Just consider them.

    One person.

    Two people.

    A few people.

    Several people.

    Many people.

    So, in the latter cases how many people were there? Well, more than one of course. What, more than one people? No, more than one person. But we were discussing people, weren't we, so where did this odd person come into it and which is the one person that they are all more than? You can understand why she felt an immediate need to go and do something urgently in the garden then despite it getting dark and her having injured her foot out there earlier and barely being able to walk.

    I can see the point though. If "many" equates to "more than one" then why should one not say "(more than one) people" in place of "many people", "several people", etc? This is subtly different structurally from saying "more than (one person)" although the information imparted is pretty much the same. Ah well, English never was designed but just evolved haphazardly it seems.
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  2. #2
    Member technicalbob's Avatar
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    Nov 2019
    I live in the Midlands.
    The English language has continually evolved, taking words from many other languages. Person is an interesting word as it is both a regular and irregular noun. It is pluralised as 'persons' in legal documents and 'people' in less formal use.
    However, the word people can also be used to describe a race or population, things which can be counted, meaning it too can be pluralised. So, in answer to how many peoples are there in the world, you could say 'I don't know for sure, but there is more than one people.'

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  3. #3
    "More than one people" could be correct if you were talking about multiple groups of people.

  4. #4
    You did not complain about no people. Oversight?

    I like your argument. It seems very clever and elegant and clear. Perhaps it makes the point that determiners apply to what follows, so "(more than one) people" is not a legal grouping.
    English is a good language for people who like to be creative and expressive, not for people who want words to fit into boxes and stay there.

    Hidden Content -- Hidden Content

  5. #5

    "People" isn't special in this regard. You've got one person, one dog, one house, one car - it's singular for all of them.

    How many dogs were there? More than one dog. Not "more than one dogs".

    Am I totally missing the point?


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