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A hard-working people

Posted by R. Berg on June 08, 2001

In Reply to: A hard working people posted by K Yone on June 08, 2001

: Hi, thaks a lot for your answer last time!

: I think both of the following sentences are correct.

: 1. The Chinese are hard working people.
: 2. The Chinese are a hard working people.

: I believe 'people' in the first sentence is plural from 'person' while 'people' in the second sentence is 'a people' which mean 'people in a country.' Now, I think the second sentece is a generic statement while the first one isn't. Am I right?

: I have another question. Is 'hard-working' okay in the following sentence?

: 1. are a hard-working people.

: How about the second one?

: 2. are hard-working people.

: My WORD suggests me to use 'hard working' instead of 'hard-working' when I try to type the second one, but the WORD seems to accept 'hard-working' in the first one.

: Is my WORD right? How about 'hardworking'?

: I was told that 'hardworking' is common in British English. How about in American English?

: Thank you very much for your help.

: K Yone

For the first set of questions: Both sentences are correct, and, yes, "people" in #1 means "persons," and "people" in #2 means "the population." I don't know exactly what you mean by "generic." In a sense, both #1 and #2 are generic statements: they lump all Chinese together; they are generalizations. #1 says that all Chinese individuals work hard; #2 says that the Chinese as a nation work hard (but not that "China works hard"). These two meanings are not very different.

About the hyphen: "Hard-working" should always have a hyphen, at least in American English. Decisions about hyphenation are too complex and too dependent on context for Word to make them correctly every time.