peoples' or people's?

This question has been answered · 49 replies
1 2 3 4 5 6
While writing my master thesis, my supervisor repeatedly corrected my use of people's and peoples', but I cannot figure out the logic behind it. Does anybody know when to use peoples' and when to use people's?

examples of sentences I've written are:

"We all have the desire to believe that we are worthy of other peoples’ love, attention, and respect"
"First, defensiveness has consequences for others because the need to maintain the positive self-image is often met at the expense of other people’s needs and feelings."

Thank you!

By the way, would any native English speaker be interested in checking the English of my master thesis? It is quite a read, around 35 pages doublespaced, and it's about self-defense.
New Member02
Thread is locked
Approved answer (verified by )
In your thesis, you need to use "people's".

"Peoples" is the collective noun for people of different races/nations: "The peoples of China and Japan have a common origin".
Veteran Member5,006
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
Thread is locked
Approved answer (verified by )
A people must understand that ......
We must work to end the wars in the best interest of the PEOPLES of the world.

If the speaker means ethnic groups, then both sentences are right.

What is confusing - people is already the plural of person-- Only when it is talking of humans in general. An ethnic or national group (the Tajiks, the Russians, etc) is also called a people, and its plural is peoples.
Veteran Member114,965
SystemAdministrator: A system administrator takes care of the inner workings of the entire system. These users have the ability to promote, ban and modify other users.Teachers: Users in this role are certified teachers. This may include DELTA, CELTA, TESOL, TEFL qualified professionals. Email a scan of your qualification to an admin, if you wish to be considered.
Thread is locked
that'll do

thank you!
Thread is locked
I am curious. How do you justify your use of "people"? Based on observation, I thought that "people" was plural and only plural. If this is so, why add an "s"? If you say "The people of China and Japan...," this does not seem to change the meaning of the sentence--at least not obviously. For clarity, I would simply rewrite the sentence to avoid the possessive form of "people." For even if you think you are right on this tricky issue, others may take you as wrong, which would likely, in turn, forestall the communication of your idea.
Thread is locked
there are two groups of people. the people of china and the people of japan. it is to show the separation of the groups, although i don't disagree with your suggestion to rewrite. any phrase i am not comfortable with i try to change because the objective is to get your point across not to use a specific set of words.
Thread is locked
Sorry, but I don't think your answer helps! It's true what you said about the plural of people. But the writer wanted to know about the possessive use of people. I was thinking about the same problem and I think that with irregular plurals you treat them like a singular noun, e.g. "children's toys", ... and that people has to be treated in the same way, therefore "people's ambitions" etc.
Thread is locked
If you are writing a possessive phrase, then you need to write people's, as it is an irregular plural (doesn't end in 's' in its plural form). There is no use for peoples' - it is a misuse of people's.

You wrote "...people's love, attention and respect."

You mean their love, attention and respect, so you are writing a possessive phrase, which needs an apostrophe.

If a word ends in 's' already in its plural form, such as boys, then you would add the apostrophe after the 's' if you were going to write a possessive phrase, such as "the boys' clothes were filthy."

I hope that helps!
Thread is locked
I'm no English Professor, but I'm going to have to say you would use "people's" if they are acting in agreeance or as a collective unit. If they are not agreeing or acting as one, they are representing several individuals which should call for the apostrophe to be at the end ("peoples'"). I'm having the same issue though.
Thread is locked
I think the better question is: Why was your supervisor writing your master thesis? Emotion: smile
Thread is locked
Show more
© MediaCet Ltd. 2016, xC v7.3.1.14987. All content posted by our users is a contribution to the public domain, this does not include imported usenet posts.*
For web related enquires please contact us on
*Usenet post removal: Use 'X-No-Archive' or please send proof of the poster's email, we will remove immediately.
Views expressed in this community do not reflect the views of MediaCet LTD, and we are in no way liable for such content.
Offensive or malicious content will be removed immediately, please send an email to