I try to help some people with basic English, and I'm not able to explain why "Everyone" takes a "s" with the simple present verb, and why "People" takes no "s".

I explained "Everyone" as a group, and group means a plural, but have a singular form. Example: a football team.

But with "people", my explanation get confusing. How to explain it, considering the students ask for a logic, if they are learning from a language with a very different logic.

In linguistics, how is it called?

PS: why there is no "indefinite pronouns" tags, nor "linguistics" tag?

  • Does this help: Sometimes, things can be both. Commented May 9, 2017 at 9:26
  • Thanks for your reply. I've checked this kind of page before, it can mean both, but it doesn't help as "everything" has a plural meaning also. So explanation becomes confusing.
    – Quidam
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 9:29
  • I think the confusion stems from your understanding of the word "everything"? Although "everything" means "all" and may have many constituents, it is not plural. Perhaps once you start thinking of "everything" as singular, things will be less confusing? Commented May 9, 2017 at 9:44

2 Answers 2


"Everyone" is equivalent to "Every person". Although we are talking about multiple people, we are grammatically using a singular.

  • Everyone (singular) works overtime today.
  • Every person (singular) works overtime today.

"People", on the other hand, is the plural for "person". "Persons" can be correct in certain circumstances. But you'll want to use "people" in most cases.

  • People (plural) work overtime today.

There are ways that you can say the same thing about a group of people, but you can grammatically use the singular if you want to:

  • The Coca Cola employees (plural) work overtime today.
  • The Coca Cola staff (singular) works overtime today.
  • -1 for '"Persons" is not correct English.' This is quite wrong. What is true is that "persons" is usually replaced by "people", but it is still valid to pluralize "person" to emphasize the separate individual natures being discussed. (This is common in legalese, but not unheard of elsewhere.) Commented May 19, 2017 at 17:22
  • 1
    @NathanTuggy I accept that correction, but do you think this is the main focus for an English Language Learners question? 9 times out of 10, learners will pluralize "person" to "persons" wrongly instead of in the fringe case you're talking about.
    – Flater
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 6:56
  • That's true. I just don't think answers should misinform, even by quietly omitting corner cases that are exceptions to the "rule" they're putting forth. Commented May 22, 2017 at 7:41
  • @NathanTuggy: I agree, but you also need to consider that examples should be simple and easy to understand, rather than getting complicated because of fringe cases. More often than not, an ELL poster will still be trying to learn the general rule; it'd be wrong to pull focus to fringe exceptions that they could start using more widely than they should. Nonetheless, my statement about persons not being correct English was factually incorrect, you were right about that.
    – Flater
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 7:44

Almost all English plural nouns end in s or es but there are about 20 or so nouns with irregular plurals (that aren't stolen from Latin) - and people is one of them. So it's treated the same way as a noun with s or es on the end.

Everyone is really the two words "every one" run together. So it's really one modified by every. You would use singular verb forms if one was the subject, and continue to do so if one was modified by another word.

Similar thread of logic with everything, everywhere and everybody (though "every body" does mean something different than "everybody" and "every where" doesn't work.)

  • No, it's not about the irregular plural, it's about the agreement with the verb. "Everyone take a "s" with the single present". I though it was clear it means the conjugation, but maybe I should edit my question?
    – Quidam
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 13:17
  • I thought there was confusion because people doesn't end with s or es. But my last two points address your question I think.
    – LawrenceC
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 14:53

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