singular debris?

Michael K. Gottlieb michael.gottlieb at YALE.EDU
Thu Jul 22 17:44:48 UTC 1999

On Thu, 22 Jul 1999, Beverly Flanigan wrote:

> More common are "a group of people are going..." or "a bunch of things were
> done"--and I too get funny looks from my prescriptivist students when I,
> increasingly a real speaker, speak thus(ly).

Speaking of plurals...

I have a coworker who consistently uses "persons" where I and others would
use "people" or "body," as in "anybody."  At first I thought it was only
in her formal speech, but she uses it casually, as well.  I have yet to
ask her about it, but I thought I'd get an informal poll, first to see if
it's as uncommon as I think it is.

  "Those persons can choose from list A or B."
  "Any persons who don't want to go early, don't have to."
  "There are usually 9 persons to each class..."

Is "people" considered less formal or less good?

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