One entry of Merriam-Webster's definitions of 'follow-up' as an adjective is:

done, conducted, or administered in the course of following up persons.

Why do they use 'persons' rather than 'people' here? This appears quite outlandish to me, since the use of 'persons' is rather rare in my experience.

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    I don't understand why "persons" is there at all. It may have been an editorial mistake.
    – nschneid
    Commented Mar 23 at 3:31
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    "Persons is often used in formal, legal contexts to emphasize individuals as opposed to a group." Source: thesaurus.com/e/grammar/persons-vs-people-vs-peoples Also, "Many usage guides over the years have suggested that there is a clear distinction between these two words; people is used when referring to a collective group or indeterminate number, and persons serves better when referring to individuals (or a number of individuals)." from merriam-webster.com/grammar/people-vs-persons Commented Mar 23 at 4:06
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    Does this answer your question? persons vs people Commented Mar 23 at 4:09

1 Answer 1


The use of persons is possible in very formal context:

Persons (plural) is a very formal word. We only use it in rather legalistic contexts:

[notice in a lift]

Any person or persons found in possession of illegal substances will be prosecuted.

The dictionary may have considered the role of following up persons to be a very formal one.

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