Is the usage of the word peoples correct in the following sentence:

There are two types of Hindu peoples, one who believe in God and others who don't.

From what I read peoples is used when one has to talk about more than one ethnic group within the same geographical or cultural context. Here, Hinduism is a cultural group which has two types of people. So should we use the word peoples or not?

Moreover, the following sentence typically talks about different ethnic groups in the cultural group of Hinduism:

There are many types of Hindu peoples including Shakta, Shaiva etc..

Is it correct to use the word here?

Note: I have read the definition and usage of peoples from a few sites including the questions previously asked on this site and got much clarity, but I'm still confused in these sentences.

  • I agree with joiedevivre's answer. Your second example would be correct, if you replaced "Shaktism" and "Shivaism" with "Shaktas" and "Shivas", or whatever the correct nouns for those peoples might be. This is because "Shaktism" isn't a people, it's a tradition that is common to the Shakta people.
    – clfm
    Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 23:43

1 Answer 1


It works in the second example where you're talking about named subgroups. It doesn't work well in the first example where you are simply talking about different beliefs or customs that people within that cultural group have. "People who don't believe in god" could come from any cultural or ethnic background.

Your first example is problematic for a number of reasons. First "people who believe in god" and "people who don't believe in god" would generally be considered too culturally and ethnically diverse to form a people. We don't usually call people who simply share opinions or characteristics a "people." Peoples usually need to have names of some kind.

Second, although we normally wouldn't think of the set of all people who don't believe in god as a "people," even if you tried to, this set only intersects with the set of Hindu people, it is not a subset. Thus, you can't describe the don't-believe-in-god people as a "type of Hindu people." So to express the idea in your first sentence, you would want to use the plural version of "people:" Some Hindu people believe in god and some don't.

However, it does work to use "peoples" in your second sentence, there's one set that is the Hindu people, with two subsets: the Shakta and Shaiva peoples.

However, you do want to refer to the people and not the branch of Hinduism. I'm not positive I have the right words with Shakta and Shaiva, but you wouldn't say "two types of Hindu peoples, Shaktism and Shivaism." You need to use the words used to refer to people who practice those branches. (For example, you didn't say "Hinduism people.")

Perhaps it would help to show it as a type of math:

  1 Shakta people (ethnic group)
+ 1 Shaiva people (ethnic group)
= 2 Hindu peoples (two ethnic groups that are both Hindu)

  n Hindu people who believe in god
+ n Hindu people who don't believe in god
= n Hindu people (many Hindu people with different beliefs)

Conceptually, however, the second example could also be this:

  n Hindu people who believe in god
+ n Hindu people who don't believe in god
= 1 Hindu people (one Hindu people [cultural group] made up of many people)

Also, because it seems like your confusion has something to do with the fact that the Hindu people is also a cultural group, bear in mind that it is still only one cultural group (one set with subsets). So:

  1 Hindu people
+ 1 Bengali Muslim people
= 2 Indian peoples

Finally, just because I think set theory is really useful for understanding this:

  • Each individual member in these sets is a person.
  • Multiple set members are people.
  • The name for each individual set is also people.
  • Multiple sets are peoples.
  • The answer was really helpful, and the point that these two weren't subsets of Hinduism, they simply intersected with... made it much clear. The point about the subsets being shakta not shaktism is right, and hence I edited it in the question itself. Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 7:27
  • @HaritdeepSingh I'm very glad it was helpful. Your sentence would be completely correct if you said There are many Hindu peoples, including the Shakta and Shaiva. To say "types of peoples" is confusing here, but explaining that would be another long answer. Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 10:18
  • I agree with your point. Indeed I got a satisfactory answer to my ques.. Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 11:35

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