What is the difference between "la gente" and "il popolo"? I thought, "il popolo" are the citizens of a state ("il popolo italiano"), which would translate "the italian people (singular!)". "La gente" are the people on the street (plural). If this is so, the answer in the lesson should be: Cosa pensa il popolo - what DOES the people think.
'people' is a collective noun. So it is "what do the people think"
Read this to understand when collective nouns are singular and plural http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/collectivenoun.htm
Technically speaking, it is a singular noun with a collective sense. It is singular. "Peoples" is the plural of "people," which is singular. Many people [persons] have been wrongly taught that "people" is the plural of person; actually, the plural of "person" is "persons."
While it sounds unsavory, "what does the people think" is the grammatically correct answer. Just because many persons say "I'm good" when they ought to say "I'm well" doesn't mean that both are grammatically correct.
"people" can be the plural of "person". You would say "a person is at the door", or "people" are at the door". The plural "persons" has more a connection to law or rules. "a maximum of 14 persons may occupy the lift" You would say "a thousand people were in the square". Generally "people" if they cannot be properly counted.
I took this to be the singular of 'peoples' and used 'does' instead of 'do'. I do not understand the Italian well enough to know whether it is the plural of 'persons', or the singular of 'peoples'. However, 'do' is often used for this sort of noun referring to a group of people, and usage would dictate that it is acceptable.
I did read the sugested article and this is what they say : "Because people behave as both herd animals and solitary creatures, collective nouns can be either singular or plural, depending on context.[...]
People often behave in the same manner, doing one thing in unison with the other members of their group. When these people are part of a collective noun, that noun becomes singular and requires singular verbs and pronouns."
The suggested question mostly makes sense if you expect a collective answer. So "What does the people think?" should be accepted.
popolo has different undertones:
- Community, population: "il popolo ebraico veniva perseguitato" = Jewish people was persecuted ; and it can be plural: "Immagina che tutti i popoli vivano in pace" = Imagine all the people living life in peace ;
- Populace, working-class: "Il popolo unito non sarà mai sconfitto" =The people united will never be defeated ;
- Subjects: "il popolo non ha pane - Che mangino brioche!" = the peasants had no bread - Let them eat brioche! ;
- Crowd, Mass: "il popolo acclama il tiranno" = The crowd praises the dictator .
That was my thought. Reading above, it seems like (if I'm reading it right?), people are saying we should treat "the people (they)" like "the population (it)"--as a collective thing, rather than group of folks. So, rather than "they think" it would be something more like "what does it think?"