people's religion

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
mess with
If you tell someone not to mess with a person or thing, you are warning them not to get involved with that person or thing.
You are messing with people's religion and they don't like that...
(Collins Cobuild)

I can't think of any context in which I'd use the "people's" without a definite article in this sentence.
Except that I'd emphasize that it's people's religion, (not animal's, plant's or someone's else), which is unlikely.
So, why does the "people" not take an article here?
Thanks.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Using "people" in phrases like "messing with people's beliefs" is common, Vik. Using an article like "the" in such phrases would look odd and somewhat exclusive, as though you were talking about the beliefs of some particular group of people rather than people in general.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Using "people" in phrases like "messing with people's beliefs" is common, Vik. Using an article like "the" in such phrases would look odd and somewhat exclusive, as though you were talking about the beliefs of some particular group of people rather than people in general.
    Yes, that's what I mean -- "the beliefs of some particular group of people".
    If I wanted to talk about people in general I'd say:
    You are messing with religion and people don't like that...
    Why add "people" to "religion"? We all know that only people believe in gods, no other beings do.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    There are certainly other ways to express the idea, Vik. If you need to have some particular group of people in mind when you say something about "people's beliefs", then you can ignore "people's beliefs" and say what you want. Try not to be too astonished, however, when you run across remarks like "You're messing with people's beliefs." Once again, that's not an ungrammatical or uncommon thing to say.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    There are certainly other ways to express the idea, Vik. If you need to have some particular group of people in mind when you say something about "people's beliefs", then you can ignore "people's beliefs" and say what you want. Try not to be too astonished, however, when you run across remarks like "You're messing with people's beliefs." Once again, that's not an ungrammatical or uncommon thing to say.
    If I came across "You're messing with people's beliefs." I'd think "that's nice". Because the phrase "You're messing with beliefs" doesn't tell what beliefs are being talked about. Only adding "people's" makes sense. But the phrase "You are messing with religion" is clear and unambiguous.
    :)
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    - "You're messing with religion." This could mean organized religion, religious institutions or leaders, etc.

    - "You're messing with people's religion." This is the religious beliefs or practices of individual people.

    - "You're messing with the people's religion." I'm not sure what this would mean. Maybe ordinary people as opposed to the elite?
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    - "You're messing with religion." This could mean organized religion, religious institutions or leaders, etc.

    - "You're messing with people's religion." This is the religious beliefs or practices of individual people.

    - "You're messing with the people's religion." I'm not sure what this would mean. Maybe ordinary people as opposed to the elite?
    I'm not sure I understand what individual people means:) People in general, considered to be the total of individual persons?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I'm not sure I understand what individual people means:) People in general, considered to be the total of individual persons?
    Of course I can't answer for Hildy, Vik, but "people in general considered as individuals" sounds right. "You're messing with people's religion" = You're messing with my religion, with the family next door's religion, with Joe Blow's religion, etc.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    - "You're messing with the people's religion." I'm not sure what this would mean. Maybe ordinary people as opposed to the elite?
    I meant -- "those/these people's religion." That is, a particular group of people (in a certain context)
    Of course I can't answer for Hildy, Vik, but "people in general considered as individuals" sounds right. "You're messing with people's religion" = You're messing with my religion, with the family next door's religion, with Joe Blow's religion, etc.
    I see,
    thank you, all.
     
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