to cite this wikipedia article

"And (We sent) Lot when he said to his people: What! do you commit an indecency which any one in the world has not done before you? Most surely you come to males in lust besides females; nay you are an extravagant people. And the answer of his people was no other than that they said: Turn them out of your town, surely they are a people who seek to purify (themselves). So We delivered him and his followers, except his wife; she was of those who remained behind. And We rained upon them a rain; consider then what was the end of the guilty."

I'm confused of the usage of the word a in the above bold quote. To quote britishcouncil.org:

  1. We use the indefinite article, a/an, with count nouns when the hearer/reader does not know exactly which one we are referring to:

Police are searching for a 14 year-old girl.

  1. We also use it to show the person or thing is one of a group:

She is a pupil at London Road School.


  1. We do not use an indefinite article with plural nouns and uncount nouns:

She was wearing blue shoes. (= plural noun) She has short blonde hair. (= uncount noun)

Surely the word people is a plural noun. Additionally, the words they and are are used to show the plural of the noun. Therefore i don't understand why the indefinite article a is used here.

Note: I don't think this question addresses the same point, because it doesn't addresses the plural usage.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is not "native" English but a translation of a passage in the Quran; the unusual construction doubtless represents an attempt to reproduce some subtlety in the original Arabic, but only a Quranic scholar can answer this question with any authority. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 16 '16 at 10:31
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    @StoneyB But isn't this a fairly straight-forward explanation of how people can be a population? Similar to the example in ell.stackexchange.com/q/61008/9161 It would be well for us to admire what is worthy of admiration in such a people, rather than to carp about their errors. – ColleenV Jun 16 '16 at 11:47
  • @ColleenV But it's clear that the "people" in question are not a population: they appear to be Lot and his family, they may be Lot's visitors, but they're not the people of Sodom, called in the previous clauses "his people". We don't know what "people" here represents: is it a population, a kindred, or what? – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 16 '16 at 11:56
  • This probably should be addressed at Islam. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 16 '16 at 12:00
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    I'm not understanding. If I said "Trump gave a speech to his people and they said "Well why don't those of us that agree with your crazy idea just move to a commune in the desert? They are a people that are interested in isolating themselves aren't they?" Yeah the language is a bit 'literary' but I don't understand why choosing the article would require a nuanced reading unless you were really confused about the pronouns and not the articles. – ColleenV Jun 16 '16 at 13:52

Actually, I believe you are looking for this definition where people is singularenter image description here

So in your example, people means group of humans, and what do the group members have in common?

[They] seek to purify (themselves).

In this instance, since people is singular, you can apply the rules you know about the article a.

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