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which is correct or mostly used when the listener doesn't know which people I mean?
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  • Do you know people I work with?
  • Do you know the people I work with?

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  • I hate people who brag about how much money they have.
  • I hate the people who brag about how much money they have.
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    The relative clause has no effect on the meaning of "the". It is acting as a determiner with its usual meaning, (if you can answer the question "which people" then they are determined and that is marked with "the")
    – James K
    Jan 28 at 19:44
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    It's not about whether the listener knows which people are meant, it's whether the speaker does Jan 28 at 20:03
  • If you hate people you work with, I guess you can't work anywhere.
    – Lambie
    Jan 28 at 20:30
  • @AndyBonner can you explain me what you mean?
    – hwkal
    Jan 28 at 20:46
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    Which means that both versions are correct and are often used, so this question can't be answered as it is. Please use the "edit" button to tell a bit more about what kind of meaning you'd like to create. Jan 28 at 20:49

1 Answer 1

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Both are correct, but the meaning changes a very small amount. In almost all cases, native speakers will know what you mean regardless of which version you use.

The People

Adding the definite article the indicates a specific, finite group of people. Saying "Do you know the people I work with?" asks if the listener knows (broadly) all of the people OR if they know the group as a whole. Saying "I hate the people who brag about how much money they have," implies that the speaker knows either specific individuals who do this OR that they think of this as a category/group of people, different from other groups.

People

Omitting the article leaves the meaning less specific or more flexible. Saying "Do you know people I work with?" asks if the listener knows anyone that the speaker works with. The listener could answer yes if they know one person, two people, or more. They don't need to know the whole group.

Saying "I hate people who brag about how much money they have," means that the speaker is talking abstractly about some people, but it isn't clear who or how many or even if they have specific people in mind. They also don't need to think of this as a group-defining trait.

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