singular debris?

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Thu Jul 22 22:00:58 UTC 1999

I too have noticed this increase of "persons" (where I would say "people"
or "folks").I don't know what to attribute it to.


>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?

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

More information about the Ads-l mailing list