When using the word "most" before the word "people", should the verb which comes after them should be referred as a singular or plural?

For example:

  1. What would the most people know about insulin?
  2. What would the most people knows about insulin?

Which one of the two above is the correct one?

  • 4
    Ask yourself: How many are "most"? More than one? You should drop the article, btw.
    – Stephie
    Mar 8, 2015 at 5:24
  • Have a look at OALD, most no. 2. - most verbs are reguar - and note the remark about "the".
    – rogermue
    Mar 8, 2015 at 6:52
  • 1
    You don't have to capitalize insulin.
    – user230
    Mar 3, 2016 at 0:34
  • 1
    I have related question and when I was googling this came up. How should I say correctly 'most of the developers know' (or knows)? To me 'know' is the correct form. I'm reviewing a blog by non-native speaker and he used 'most of the developers out there knows' which seems wrong to me. I'd say 'most developers know' and drop the 'of the ' and knows. What do you think?
    – Naomi
    Nov 28, 2017 at 18:16
  • 1
    @Naomi Most of plural (=developers for example) is always plural. Most of singular (most of it goes to the sea) is always singular. So you can conclude that the correctness depends on what you're referring to, when you're mentioning 'most'. Nov 28, 2017 at 20:36

5 Answers 5


To my (American) ear, "What would most people know about insulin?" is correct, and "What would most people knows about insulin?" is incorrect.

"What would the most people know about insulin?" sounds unnatural. "The most people" is usually used as a superlative, not as a way of referring to a specific group of "most people". "Most people" is deliberately vague as to which people are in the group, so a non-superlative use of "the most people" is usually self-contradictory.

"What is the most people you have ever talked to at the same time?" does sound natural. Notice that this question asks for a superlative -- the result of comparing the sizes of all of the groups of people "you have ever talked to" -- so this use of "the most people" refers to a single group of people. "What is the largest audience you have ever spoken to?" and "What is the largest group of people you have ever talked to?" sound even more natural.

"The most people I have ever talked to was 2,500 people, during a meeting at Town Hall." In this usage, "the most people" is singular.


"people", when used as the plural of "person", requires a verb form that's also in the plural. In your example, "most people" refers to multiple individuals, so you need the plural.

Unrelated to your example, but useful to know: the word "people" could also be used as a singular noun, but with a different meaning - it refers to a group of human beings with a common culture, tradition, language, etc:

Americans, as a people, value hard work and not giving up easily.

It also has its own plural:

The peoples of South America, one of which was the Incas, had rich cultures and complex belief systems.

Most of the time, however, you'll see "people" as the plural of "person" or "human being".


The noun "people" has been used in the above sentences as a plural noun. According to grammar, if you use a plural noun in front of "most" that mean the greatest number of or the majority of, you use the plural verb. Hence, the correct sentence is: What would most people know about insulin? A couple of examples are given below:

Most operations are successful.

Most people like eggs.


It depends on the context. The noun "people" can be used as the singular (refer to all the individuals of a tribe or a nation or a country or an ethnic group) or as the plural (refer to a group of individuals). In the question the noun is used in the second meaning - plural.

  • Can you show an example for people who get singular form - please? Nov 3, 2016 at 11:37

It seems to me that all other answers actually missed the most important bit in the example given - here the verb is modal so it doesn't matter whether the noun is singular or plural - it's always would + <infinitive>.

But that's not what the OP had in mind so the correct example should be e.g.:

  1. What do most people know about insulin?
  2. What does most people know about insulin?

And in this case the correct version is 1 (for explanations see other answers).

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