Within my students' college writing, I found much writing referring to essentially imaginary, or not well-defined groups of people. Here are some examples:
- These days, more and more people carpool to work.
- Some people asked which method is best.
I want to tell my students to avoid this and to always have specific individuals or groups of people in mind and to state them very clearly. For instance:
- These days, more and more Germans carpool to work.
- Recently, some students in my school asked which method is best.
I am concerned though, that if I give students such a “rule” it is too general. In other words, there might be some situations where this ambiguity is needed or appropriate.
- Is there any special term to describe this kind of ambiguity in the subject?
- Are there any situations when it might be acceptable for them to refer to an undefined group of 'people'?