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These are words that have similar meanings, except for people, and I wonder if I can use them interchangeably in the following examples:

  1. "The number of Manchester people/residents/dwellers/citizens/inhabitants is increasing."
  1. "The number of city residents/dwellers/inhabitants is increasing."
  1. "The number of apartment residents/dwellers/inhabitants is increasing."

"Manchester dwellers" sounds odd to me. Is that because "dwellers" doesn't go with proper nouns?

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    We would use Manchester people to talk about what people from Manchester are like, not when quoting statistics. The population of Manchester is increasing would be more idiomatic. Mar 29 at 8:59
  • @Old Brixtonian So it is correct? Could you make some comments on Seowjooheng's research on the word dweller being used with proper nouns?
    – Ken Adams
    Mar 29 at 11:42
  • These words are contextually different. The Manchester population OR the population of Manchester. I like the collocations for dwellers below.
    – Lambie
    Mar 29 at 20:05
  • Actually, I only mentioned "the number of... is increasing" to place Manchester people/.../.../.../... in a complete sentence. The main focus here is how we use those 5 words when they come after other nouns to form compound nouns
    – Ken Adams
    Mar 30 at 0:38
  • I'd like to know which combinations are invalid in all, or most, situations. So far, to my mind, the invalid ones are: city inhabitants (as TimR commented below), Manchester dwellers (Singapore's comment) (no way his name is Singapore right?), and I should be careful when using apartment dwellers (James's comment).
    – Ken Adams
    Mar 30 at 0:43

3 Answers 3

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The number of Manchester people/residents/dwellers/citizens/inhabitants is increasing.

The number of city residents/dwellers/inhabitants is increasing.

The number of apartment residents/dwellers/inhabitants is increasing."

A search on Ngram didn't get any Manchester dwellers. A separate search shows few hits, like this.

A list of collocations with dwellers in this link shows apartment, cave, city, coastal, forest, hostel, rural, slump, town, and urban. No proper nouns are found.

Collins Dictionary gives fewer examples of collocations, similar to those listed earlier, also without proper nouns.

Hence I believe dwellers doesn't collocate that commonly with names, like that in the OP's example.

citizen is found in the Ngram search and is valid, as also described:

  1. COUNTABLE NOUN B2 The citizens of a town or city are the people who live there. ...the citizens of Buenos Aires.

The other 3 nouns are quite clearly valid.

For city, all 3 collocations are used.

For apartment, inhabitants is not found in Ngram but is found in a separate search and is hence valid.

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Typically "citizens" relates to legal rights, but "residents" refers to the place you live. When I lived abroad, I was a resident of Tokyo and Japan, but not a citizen. It is probably easiest to talk about "residents" of a city, and "citizens" of a state, but there will be a fair amount of variation, with various degrees of precision. An immigration lawyer will use language differently from an English teacher.

You can also use "population". You can use "dweller" for form compound nouns. It is slightly risky because if you say "an apartment dweller" you are talking about a type of person, suggesting that it can't change. That's not true (since a person could move from an apartment to a house).

With "apartments" (ie "flats") it is probably important to distinguish between the number and the proportion. So you could say "The population of Manchester is increasing. As the number of city residents increases, the number of people living in flats is also increasing, but the proportion of apartment dwellers in decreasing." As usual, think about your hypothesis. I quite like the phrasing "These data support the hypothesis that...."

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city residents : people who are officially considered to have a permanent address in a particular city

Only city residents may apply for a library card.

That is, only people with a permanent address in city X may apply for a library card that can be used at any of the libraries in city X.

city dwellers : people who live in a city, as distinct from a suburb or rural area

City dwellers have access to public transportation, medical centers, and various forms of entertainment.

city inhabitants: That is not typically how we find the phrase. Far more often it is inhabitants of the city. It refers to those who reside there, as a group or en masse.

Inhabitants of the city had to be evacuated when the chemical plant exploded and a huge fire ensued, sending clouds of toxic fumes into the air.

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