We all know that the word ‘people’ refers to a mass of individuals. So, it itself ‘people’ refers to a lot of men/women/children etc.
Now, many times you will come across the term ‘peoples’ and you will instantly make a perception (until you are aware of the rule we are talking about in this post) in your mind that people are already plural and peoples must be wrong or the writer does not know the difference between people and peoples. Even your online grammar checker or inbuilt MS Word spelling and grammar fix option would tell you that peoples is a wrong word.
So the question is, does peoples word even exist?
Yes, it’s the plural of “people”. But, you say, “people” is the plural of “person”. Well, yes. But also no.
“People” actually has two meanings: one is the plural of “person” and simply means two or more persons.
But the other is a singular noun that refers to a group of persons; the group is singular even though it is composed of a plurality of elements.
If you want real fun, parse the difference between “all the people of the world” and “all the peoples of the world”. Both are valid references but to two entirely different collectives.
Legal documents often use “persons” as the plural of “person” to avoid the ambiguity inherent in the word “people”.
So, now you know that there is no problem with peoples words. However, the context in which it is written must be taken care of. Both words are not interchangeable.