People or persons?

People or persons

Which of these is correct to refer to the plural? Both. Person has two plurals: people, persons. Both are grammatically correct.

For many “people” is the de facto plural of person. However, “people” is used more often and therefore some people say that “persons” is not correct. Those mortals (mortales) are wrong. They also say that using “persons” is aloof or sounds aloof (suena distante). That is rubbish (estupidez).

You can use both these words. In reality, the word “persons” is used in more formal contexts (legal documents, government documents). It is also used when the number of mortals is exact. For example:

  • There are two persons waiting to talk to Mr. Rajoy.
  • I would like to book a table for two persons. An easier option for this would be to say: I would like to book a table for two.
  • Which persons are responsible for the Brexit negotiations? Here we have a reference to an exact number of mortals.

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