persons vs. people

“I’v e heard of person or persons unknown” as a phrase but more and more people are saying “persons”, when I think they mean “people”. Is there some rule when to use persons and when to use people, like if you are more than two or three perhaps. Thanks in advance, Belles

There’s no rule as to when to say “people” and when to say “persons”, but I’d say that you can use “persons” in an official homicide report, but that you should use “people” everywhere else.

Here is what the Oxford American Dictionary says about it:

I would add that there are people who abuse the word “persons” in ordinary speech to make themselves sound important. These are people who also use the word “myself” instead of “I” or “me” and say “at this particular point in time” instead of saying “right now”.


Another thought on the word ‘person’ It can be used also in a jocular way as in: Who is this person you keep talking about? Are we ever going to meet with reference to someone who is talked about a lot. It can also be used in a derogatory or slightly snobbish way as in: There is a person to see you, Sir. He calls himself Smith


Thanks Jamie for the Oxford dictionary quote, it was very enlightening and your remarks cleared up a baffling point for me. Alan as always your remarks are relevent to the times. -Belles

Which pone should we use:
It’s one of the most interesting persons I’ve ever met.
It’s one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.

When should we use persons? :?

People is right here. Persons is right or wrong depending on whom you ask; but it is at least ugly. I avoid “persons” entirely. Usually “people” or “those (who)” will do.

There would be some cases that we must use “persons” instead of “people” which some English experts told me before but I could not recall my mind! Would someone list out them? Thanks…

You will often find the word ‘persons’ in official document such as police reports.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A mighty vessel[YSaerTTEW443543]