les gens versus les personnes

NancyC1Kwiziq community member

les gens versus les personnes

Are "les gens" and "les personnes" interchangeable, or does "les gens" mean "people in general" and "les personnes" mean "people, considered as individuals"? (This is the fun, and puzzling, part of learning a language - understanding nuances.)

Asked 3 years ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Think of les gens as "the people" and tout le monde as "everyone". Personne can mean "person" or "nobody" (when used in a negation).

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Nancy,

Ref. balaam     https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/gens-personnes-monde.163500/#post-1027620

"les gens" is a general term who generaly mean "everybody but me".
"les gens sont dingues" would say somebody watching a riot on TV.

"personne" is a paradoxal word because it is both undefined and precise.
saying "cette personne" is targeting an unique being without actually talking of it. "je ne veux rien avoir à faire avec cette personne" is the most polite of brutal reject. the kind a wife would use talking about her husband's mistress.

moreover "personne" also mean nobody. personne n'est parfait and cette personne est parfaite have totaly different meaning.

"(tout) le monde" is more general than "les gens". take it as a "everybody especially me" or "me, as the best representative of all human beings". cynic but true.

Hope this helps.

Jim

les gens versus les personnes

Are "les gens" and "les personnes" interchangeable, or does "les gens" mean "people in general" and "les personnes" mean "people, considered as individuals"? (This is the fun, and puzzling, part of learning a language - understanding nuances.)

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