Persons, People, Peoples

Last updated: September 21, 2017 at 22:58 pm

people photoHave you ever wondered what is the difference of the words “persons,” “people” and “peoples,”?

Or have you ever wondered what is the difference between the words “people” and “peoples”?

When I was teaching my Grade 7 Social Studies class some days back, I told them that all the people in Guyana are “one people.”

That’s right! Our national motto is: One People, One Nation, One Destiny.

But how can almost one million people, be “one people”? It’s because the word “people” is a collective noun. Here are some examples:

The Americans are a strong, brave and hardworking people.

The Canadians are a peaceful people.

The Guyanese are a diversified people.

The Jews are called “God’s Chosen Bible,” in the bible.

The word “people” may be used to “collect” all the “persons” in one country, race or ethic group and express them as one. Here are some examples:

The Africans are a dark-skinned people.

The Caucasians are a light-skinned people.

The Chinese are a hardworking people.

The Portuguese are a strong and beautiful people.

The Europeans are a very literate people.

The article “a” may be used or omitted when talking about “people.” It depends on the subject you are stressing. For example, I can say:

The American Indians are a tall red-skinned people. (Where your primary subject is peoples of the world)


The American Indians are tall red-skinned people. (Where your primary subject is “The American Indians”)

But What About Peoples?

I was telling my Social Studies class that we, as Guyanese, are collectively one “people.” But the Guyanese people are made up of six different peoples. How is that so?

First, we have the indigenous: the Amerindian people. Next came the European people in search of the golden city. The Europeans brought the African People, the Chinese People, the Portuguese People and the East Indian People to work on the sugar plantations.

Together, all six “peoples” worked together to build the nation of Guyana. Therefore, we call the six peoples “the Guyanese People.”

Six peoples = one people!

Guyana is a small country: it has about one million people.

There are about 100,000 Amerindians in Guyana.

There are about 20,000 Europeans in Guyana.

There are about 50,000 Chinese in Guyana.

There are about 50,000 Portuguese in Guyana.

There are about 300,000 Africans in Guyana.

There are about 500,000 East Indians in Guyana.

100,000 Amerindians = 1 Amerindian People

20,000 Europeans = 1 European People

50,000 Chinese = 1 Chinese People

50,000 Portuguese = 1 Portuguese People

300,000 Africans = 1 African People

500,000 East Indians = 1 East Indian People

100,000 Amerindians + 20,000 Europeans + 50,000 Chinese + 50,000 Portuguese + 300,000 Africans + 500,000 East Indians = 1 Guyanese People.

The Guyanese People, therefore, are estimated to be made up of one million and twenty thousand (1,020,000) individual persons. Each person counts!*

*The numbers quoted are estimates and may not match the exact figures recorded by government officials.

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