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I have carefully read the following related Q&A:

  1. What is 「々」 and how does it affect meaning and pronunciation?

  2. What is the difference in usage between a plural using (a) the kanji repetition character 々, (b) a plural using -たち, and (c) the singular?

(1) deals with how「々」works when adding it to several words in general. In (2), They are presented different ways of pluralizing words. There's only one answer in (2) which actually discusses the differences in particular between 人々 and 人たち:

人々: Refers to many unspecified number people, emphasis on the fact that there are many (e.g. ドイツの人々はタフだ --> Many people in Germany are tough. )

人たち: Refers specific group of people that includes more than 1 person. (e.g. ドイツの人たちはタフだ --> All Germans are tough. )

Please note that the provided answer may not be reliable, and some users (including @Tsuyoshi Ito) think that this answer does not reflect correctly the difference between both words. However, this is the only related material I've come up with to try to understand the usage of those words and this is what I'm working with.


The following sentences belong to the same text in my textbook. The topic of the article is 俳句:

(A) 最近は、日本語を勉強している人達が日本語で俳句を作ることも多くなりました。

(B) 日本では、俳句は昔から人気があって老若男女、様々な人達が俳句を作って楽しんでいます。

There are two instances across the text where 人たち is used.

In one of them (A), the use is congruent with that given in the answer quoted above, because 人達 is the particular group of people who studies Japanese.

However, in the second case (B), considering the words 様々な人たち (various people) and [老若男女]{ろう・にゃく・なん・にょ} (men and women of all ages) I don't understand how there's a "specific group of people" rather than "many unspecified number of people" to quote the previous answer I'm basing on when analyzing this case.

In the second sentence (B) I would expect 人々 instead of 人たち if I were to follow the same criteria in the aforementioned answer, but instead, 人たち is used again. Why?

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    様々な人達 sounds a bit odd to me. 様々 already implies plurality. I would probably say just 様々な人.
    – aguijonazo
    May 29 at 16:36

1 Answer 1

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In both (A) and (B), 人, 人たち and 人々 are all valid options, but I feel 人たち is the least common.

  • You cannot use 人たち as a bare phrase modified by nothing.
  • 人々 focuses on the largeness of the number of unspecified people with the same characteristics. 人たち is sometimes used as a synonym for 人々, but its primary role is to emphasize the plurality, i.e., the fact that the number is not just one. 人たち is not necessary when the plurality is indicated by another means.

People are happy:

  • ✅ 人々は幸せだ。
  • ❌ 人達は幸せだ。
  • ❌ 人は幸せだ。

People in this country are happy:

  • ✅ この国の人々は幸せだ。
  • ✅ この国の人たちは幸せだ。
    (less common than the other two)
  • ✅ この国の人は幸せだ。
    (everyone knows a country has more than one person, right?)

the people who were in that room a moment ago:

  • ❓ さっきまであの部屋にいた人々
    (人々 doesn't usually refer to a few random people)
  • ✅ さっきまであの部屋にいた人たち
  • ❓ さっきまであの部屋にいた人
    (usually means there was only one person; 人たち is not necessary if the plurality is indicated like 3人の人)

the number of people who came to this concert:

  • ❓ このコンサートに来た人々の数
    (sounds redundant)
  • ❓ このコンサートに来た人たちの数
    (sounds redundant)
  • ✅ このコンサートに来た人の数

people in Sasaki family:

  • 佐々木家の人々
    (may sound like Sasaki is a large prominent family)
  • 佐々木家の人たち
    (simply refers to several people in this family)
  • ❌ 佐々木家の人
    (taken as a singular person)
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