educated and uneducated person/people

boggiee

Senior Member
Turkish
Hello,

'What's the difference between educated and uneducated person/people?'

I'd like to ask if I should use 'person' or 'people' in the above sentence. I gather that I can use both but I cannot make sure if there will be any difference in meaning.

Thanks.
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    You can say 'What's the difference between educated and uneducated people?', but you can't have an adjective at the end. You can sometimes omit 'people' altogether: "What's the difference between the rich and the poor?" (The answer to that is that the rich have more money ;). Omitting people can only be done when it's customary to denote a group of people in this style. Examples are ' the homeless', 'the starving', 'the needy'. 'Educated' isn't usually used like this, although I'd say it's acceptable: 'the educated', 'the uneducated'. It is rather formal though.

    I can't agree about using persons. It's used in official notices and communications, and legalese, but in ordinary English it's extremely uncommon and sounds unnatural. I'm talking about British English.
     

    boggiee

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Thanks for the answer but I really cannot get why 'the difference between an educated and an uneducated person' is wrong although with the 'people' one is OK. Is it because of the singularity?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thanks for the answer but I really cannot get why 'the difference between an educated and an uneducated person' is wrong although with the 'people' one is OK. Is it because of the singularity?
    I may have created confusion, for which I apologise, by mis-reading.
    "The difference between an uneducated and an educated person" is fine.
    "The difference between an educated person and an uneducated." is not correct.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    In this context, "person" is noun-countable-singular whereas "people" is noun-countable-plural.

    'What's the difference between educated and uneducated people?' :tick:

    'What's the difference between an educated and an uneducated person?' :tick:

    You could perhaps also say:

    'What's the difference between educated and uneducated persons?'

    But that use of "persons" (plural) would be less natural in everyday language use.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    You can also use a definite article to turn an adjective into a group noun, without using the word "persons":
    What is the difference between the rich and the poor?
    What is the difference between the proud and the humble?

    and so-
    What is the difference between the educated and the uneducated?
     
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