The "people" word again ...

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akurain

Member
Chinese
Yes I already know that there are topics on how this word can be singular and plural, however I am still a little confuse thanks to the wonderful goggle searching function!

I can understand the basic of the word "people" is the plural form of person, but if you were to put it in a sentence? I understand that the word can be both singular or plural depending on the context:

Then what about in the below cases, all from google :)
"What makes people thinks I'm think" shouldn't it be "people think"?

"One in Five People Thinks About Dieting Every Living Day" this should be ok since it's referring to one person right? Then what if

"Five People Thinks About Dieting Every Living Day?"
 
  • winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    I am still a little confuse also.

    But here is a wonderful example of how usage and 'correctness' diverge. You are quite right: logically it should be One in Five People Thinks. But you will almost never hear or read this: you will get One in Five People Think About Dieting.

    Perhaps the feeling is that although it is notionally one person, in fact we are talking about a percentage - one in five, or 20%. The one person referred to therefore represents one fifth of the population; unless that population is five (unlikely!) more than one person is therefore liable to be involved.

    That's my take on it anyway. Let's see what others say.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The first example, "What makes people thinks I'm think", is simply wrong, regardless of whether you think people is singular or plural.

    The second example is not a question about people, but rather a question of "one in five" = singular or plural. For a lot more discussion on this topic please look at the previous threads listed at
    "one in"
    Even better, look at 1 out of 5 children is......
    Further discussion on this issue is off topic for this thread.

    The third example is also wrong.
    Five people is plural, the verb should be think, not thinks.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Then what about in the below cases, all from google :)
    "What makes people thinks I'm think" shouldn't it be "people think"?

    "One in Five People Thinks About Dieting Every Living Day" this should be ok since it's referring to one person right? Then what if

    "Five People Thinks About Dieting Every Living Day?"
    This is proof the Google is a fine repository of good stuff and of garbage. Let's examine each example, starting with the incomprehensible first one.

    What makes people thinks I'm think.

    This example should be ignored entirely because it is meaningless gibberish whether you keep it as is or change it (correct it) to people think.

    Next!
    One in Five People Thinks About Dieting Every Living Day

    We have had many thread topics about this, and it has nothing to do with people; it's about the meaning of 'one in five'. According to context, that may properly take a singlar or a plural verb form. If there are only five people, and you are talking about just one of them, that one individual thinks about dieting. If by 'one in five' you mean 20%, a fifth, of a larger group, such as all the winklepickers in England and Wales, then that group 'thinks about dieting'. You could substitute elephants for people in the sample sentence, and the argument wold still rage.

    Five People Thinks About Dieting Every Living Day?

    This one is easy. It is wrong. Five people thinks? That's as messed up as five porpoises flys single-engine airplanes. "Peopl;e" is incidental to the proble. Five think. Five of anything is plural.
     

    akurain

    Member
    Chinese
    I like cuchuflete's reply. Great examples given which made me understood the whole concept of using the word, thank you ocne again =)
     
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