Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Listen up, people

 There, awaiting my morning grumble, in the middle of an Associated Press article on the recent tornadoes: "crews recovered pieces of peoples' lives."

People, a plural noun, is equivalent to "human beings" or "persons." 

Peoples, a plural noun, identifies a group of human beings, typically a large one, with a common culture or kinship. 

Crews were therefore recovering people's effects, the belongings of individuals. 

Unless you are writing about the peoples of the world represented at the United Nations, you are seldom going to be called upon to use anything but people

See if the Associated Press can master this distinction, and if it sticks, maybe tomorrow it can have a go at another one. 


  1. I can't say I care for that use of "pieces of lives" either. Sounds too much like body parts. But that may be just me.

  2. Agree. It sounds like something you would hear on cable news.

  3. Thanks for highlighting this, John, and Languagechat is right on with their comment. I would have used different, less jarring phrasing. Perhaps 'aspects of people's lives,' or 'mementos of people's lives.' But pieces? Hmmmm.