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What is the plural of person?

What is the plural of person? Many people learning English are confused by this question, but the answer is straightforward: person has an irregular plural: people.

Although the words persons and peoples exist, they are only used in very formal, official and scientific contexts.

Read on to learn the difference between person, people, persons and peoples. When you’ve mastered the difference, put your knowledge to the test in the free exercises.

1 Person, 2 people

A person is a man, woman or child. The plural of person is people, which is an irregular plural form.

Look at that person over there. What is he doing. Oh, it’s actually two people.

Persons and Peoples

The plural form persons is sometimes used in official language (government documents, police reports etc.), but not in everyday speech. Persons emphasises each individual person, whereas people refers to them collectively.

The police are searching for several missing persons.
Persons of interest shall be brought in for questioning.

Use peoples to talk about the inhabitants of a nation or members of an ethnic group. Again, this is limited to scientific texts and formal language — do not use peoples in everyday speech!

Indigenous peoples everywhere often face discrimination.