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people (plural or singular)

English translation: a people that

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17:47 Mar 4, 2010
English to English translations [PRO]
Social Sciences - Government / Politics
English term or phrase: people (plural or singular)
For some reason, "who marches" sounds wrong to me, but "a people" is definitely singular --

This is the true celebration of democracy, symbolized by a people who march {who marches?} on foot for hours

I have a second part to this question, which I'll post separately ...
Patricia Rosas
United States
Local time: 02:48
English translation:a people that
Explanation:
In this particular instance people is clearly singular - I have no problem with that, or with the singular verb, but I would feel slightly more comfortable with the relative pronoun "that" instead of "who" - "a people that marches on foot for hours".

I normally object to "that" being used to refer to people, but in this case I think it is appropriate, because "a people" is being seen as an entity (in effect a thing), rather than a lots of individuals. So you would say "an army that marches on its stomach ...", and you would use "that" and a singular verb with "a country" or "a nation", which is really what "people" means here. There's also a book title "A people that shall dwell alone" - not "A people who ..."

To my ears is is the "who" that is leading you to want a plural verb here, and "that" is in fact more appropriate.
Selected response from:

Armorel Young
Local time: 10:48
Grading comment
Thank you very much! I ended up using "symbolized by a people that marches" (with "a people" meaning "the Argentine people" (a singular form of "people"). Thanks to everyone who suggested answers!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
3 +2a people that
Armorel Young
5people (both plural and singular)
Ildiko Santana
4 +1people is plural
Stephanie Ezrol


Discussion entries: 7





  

Answers


6 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
people is plural


Explanation:
People always march, because it is many persons who march. A country marches toward disaster, but a country although composed of many persons is also an entity onto itself.

Stephanie Ezrol
United States
Local time: 05:48
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 20

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Alexandra Taggart: Better not to say anything, "People is" - the Biblical symbolism, I can only guess what the author wanted, but, IMHO, has failed to convey.
3 hrs

neutral  Tony M: That's an over simplification: there are manu occasions where 'people' can be used with a singular verb; the real problem here is that the 'who' is the wrong pronoun
6 hrs
  -> Tony, I agree that it is a simplified answer. The odd thing is that the construction "a people who" being used as a plural has a history in the English language even though that construction violates grammatical rules.
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52 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
people (both plural and singular)


Explanation:
The English noun people has two distinct fields of application:

As a singular noun, a group of humans, either with unspecified traits, or specific characteristics (e.g. the people of Spain or the people of the Plains).

As an irregular plural noun, people is the suppletive plural of person. However, the word persons is sometimes used in place of people, especially when it would be ambiguous with its collective sense (e.g. missing persons instead of people). It can collectively refer to all humans or it can be used to identify a certain ethnic or religious group. For example, "people of color" is a phrase used in North America to describe non-whites.


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Note added at 57 mins (2010-03-04 18:45:15 GMT)
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A very useful article can be found here on the subject, using references from Quirk et al: A Comprehensive Grammar of The English Language, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Collins Cobuild English Dictionary, Biber et al.: Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English and Azar: Understanding and Using English Grammar:
http://www.pearsonlongman.com/ae/azar/grammar_ex/message_boa...
In it you'll find, for instance:
"In the PLURAL sense, people is used as the plural of person very frequently. It is a plural count noun and takes a plural verb. It never has an –s ending; it is already plural."
"In contrast, the SINGULAR sense of people is used to refer to ALL the men, women, and children of a particular tribe, nation, country or ethnic group, speaking of them as a UNIT, and so the phrase a great people is indeed singular. It is a singular count noun."

Ildiko Santana
United States
Local time: 02:48
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in HungarianHungarian, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Alexandra Taggart: I don't know, how it goes together "a(!) people"( tribe) and "true celebration of democracy"
2 hrs
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
a people that


Explanation:
In this particular instance people is clearly singular - I have no problem with that, or with the singular verb, but I would feel slightly more comfortable with the relative pronoun "that" instead of "who" - "a people that marches on foot for hours".

I normally object to "that" being used to refer to people, but in this case I think it is appropriate, because "a people" is being seen as an entity (in effect a thing), rather than a lots of individuals. So you would say "an army that marches on its stomach ...", and you would use "that" and a singular verb with "a country" or "a nation", which is really what "people" means here. There's also a book title "A people that shall dwell alone" - not "A people who ..."

To my ears is is the "who" that is leading you to want a plural verb here, and "that" is in fact more appropriate.

Armorel Young
Local time: 10:48
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Thank you very much! I ended up using "symbolized by a people that marches" (with "a people" meaning "the Argentine people" (a singular form of "people"). Thanks to everyone who suggested answers!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Alexandra Taggart: "a people" - humanoids ?
43 mins

agree  Tony M: Yes, absolutely! 'people' + singular verb is great here, but the pronoun 'who' is wrong
3 hrs

agree  Rachel Fell
2 days15 hrs
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