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This question already has an answer here:

At least 5 people died in Bangladesh and more than 200 are injured.

At least 5 persons died in Bangladesh and more than 200 are injured.

marked as duplicate by Jason Bassford Supports Monica, Nathan Tuggy, Eddie Kal, J.R. word-usage Nov 26 '18 at 17:08

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You could probably have answered this with a quick Google. This dictionary explains the historic difference.

Historically, "persons" was used to describe a specific, countable number of individuals. So in your examples above, "persons" would have been the correct word to use, because they have been counted, and there are 5 of them.

"People" was once therefore only used to describe an undetermined number. However, that is no longer the case, and the dictionary link I gave above explains that for several decades "people" has been preferred as the plural of "person" in all uses. "Persons" is not incorrect, but tends to be used only in extremely formal settings such as legal documents.

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Persons can be archaic and not. If not, then it is only used in official, law language or to highlight how those 'persons' are respected.

For example:

Persons under the age of 18 are not allowed to buy alcoholic drinks.

Police must have a legal reason to arrest persons who are accused of having committed a crime.

You see, it's an official law language. These sentences would be acceptable in a law book in a certain context.

Example of highlighting how the persons are respected:

The new apartment building will have wheelchair access for persons with disabilities.

Otherwise it's just archaic and you should avoid it.

  • The situation is not as extreme as you make it out to be. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 26 '18 at 12:55
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    Explain if I'm wrong – Марк Павлович Nov 26 '18 at 13:13
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    I didn't say you were "wrong", just that you had stated the case in terms that were too extreme. It is possible to use person and also the plural persons in non-legalistic contexts. He's an important person who should be invited to the conference. And the plural persons is often used in a desire to speak respectfully: The new apartment building will have wheelchair access for persons with disabilities. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 26 '18 at 13:30
  • I edited my answer. If I haven't still described all usages of 'persons', feel free to edit my answer. – Марк Павлович Nov 26 '18 at 14:09
  • It's used a lot in headlines, too. I think Anand, in his answer here, summarized it well: It prevails only in a few contexts, most notably law and law enforcement, and in a few common phrases. Elsewhere, it usually gives way to people. That seems more accurate than: Otherwise it's just archaic and you should avoid it.. – J.R. Nov 26 '18 at 17:10

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