People’s or Peoples’?

People’s is the plural possessive of the word person. E.g., “People’s lives are more difficult due to austerity.” Furthermore, the term peoples’ can be correct to refer to groups of people possessing things, but it is not common. E.g., “The government neglected the indigenous peoples’ demands.”

The word people is a little different from standard plural and possessive forms because it usually doesn’t have an “s” like most plural words.

The following table provides an overview of the different forms of the word person.

Singular possessivePerson’s
Plural possessivePeople’s

As the chart shows, when talking about one person possessing something, you should use person’s. However, when you are referring to multiple people having something, you should use people’s.

The following sentences show the different forms in context.

  • Singular: Jack is a great person whom I admire very much.
  • Plural: The venue can hold around two hundred people.
  • Singular possessive: A young person’s future is often determined in school.
  • Plural possessive: Other people’s ambitions are different from mine.

We have covered the basics of how to use the possessive and plural forms of person. Now, keep reading to learn more about the different forms and how you can use them in your writing.


The term people’s is the plural possessive form of the word person. Therefore, you use it when you want to say that more than one person owns something.

  • People’s names have changed a lot over the last century.
  • Other people’s behavior at the party was far worse than mine.

As you can see, even though we are referring to multiple people, the possessive does not have the “s” before the apostrophe like usual plural possessives.


The term peoples’ is the plural possessive of people.

However, it is not like the other plural possessive of person because instead of referring to a plural quantity of persons, you are referring to a plural quantity of groups of people.

For example:

  • The nomadic peoples of North Africa mostly survive through agriculture.

The word peoples in the above example is a collective noun that refers to groups of people who share commonalities such as origin or language.

You often use people in this context to refer to groups of people from a particular region or who have the same ethnicity.

Although it is not hugely common, when you have a plural quantity of these groups of people, you should use peoples’ as the plural possessive.

  • The different indigenous peoples’ life expectancy in the region was shorter than their white



The word peoples is the plural form of the word people.

That may seem confusing as people is already plural. However, in this context, you can define people as men, women, and children of a specific ethnic group or region.

Therefore, when you refer to several groups of people from a particular region or several groups of people who share common characteristics, you should use peoples.

  • Many peoples across S.E. Asia eat a diet mainly consisting of rice.
  • Some believe that aliens visited ancient peoples on earth thousands of years ago.