On the word "folk"
How well do you know the word "FOLK"? To be honest, I
find this word amusing because it seems simple enough, yet
it could cause a bit of misunderstanding if you're not familiar
with its nuances, and unless someone points out how the
meaning changes, you may say one thing and not know that
you are actually saying something completely different.
September 16, 2013
used to modify a noun, usually means
"cultural" or "of the people". This is the
case with phrases like folk music, folk
songs, folk dance, and folk art. This is also
means the stories and beliefs of a people.
Take a look at these examples.
- The local museum is hosting an
exhibit on Indonesian folk art.
- The costumes worn by the Malaysian
folk dancers were so colorful.
- According to local folklore, the spirit
of the mountain comes down once a
year to bless the people of the
The adjective "FOLKSY" conveys this same
meaning. When a piece of art or music isn't
specifically labeled as folk art or folk music
but has ethnic or cultural qualities, we can
describe it as "FOLKSY." For example, you
might say that a particular rock song is
FOLKSY or has a FOLKSY quality to it.
However, when the word FOLK is used as a
noun, it simply means people. This can be
used in the plural form (folks) or as a
noncount noun (folk). It's used in the plural
form when you are referring to individuals
and as a noncount noun if you are referring
to a group as one whole unit. However,
there's a catch. Whether you use FOLKS or
FOLK, you have to use a plural verb. Don't
ask me why; it's just one of those
irregularities in English.
Here are examples of this word in the plural
form to refer to individuals.
- Hi folks! Are we ready to start the
- They got lost. Luckily, they met
some really nice folks who helped
them find their way.
- The folks who live in that area are
very well off.
Sentences 1 & 2 above are best used in the
plural, because you are clearly referring to
individuals. However, example 3 can also
refer to a whole group as one unit, so the
word "FOLKS" in this sentence can also be
expressed as a noncount noun, "FOLK."
Remember, though, that even in this form,
we need to use a plural verb.
Here's the third sentence with two more
examples using the noncount form, "FOLK."
- The folk who live in that area are
very well off.
- The young folk in this community
are so well-behaved.
- It's not easy to discourage
Incidentally, you can either use the
noncount (folk) or the plural (folks) in the
above examples, depending on whether
you want to refer to the group or to the
individuals in the group. Either would be
Next, when you use a possessive noun or
pronoun with "FOLKS," it specifically means
someone's parents (mom & dad). Again,
don't ask me why; it's just the way it works.
:-) Just keep in mind that this has to be in
- Maria's folks are in town, so she
can't come to the party. (Maria's
parents are in town.)
- He decided to visit his folks over the
holidays. (his parents)
- She doesn't live too far from her
folks, so she often visits and has
dinner with them. (her parents)
There you have it, folks! I hope you found
this useful. If you did, share it with as
many folks as possible, including your
folks (your parents)! :-)
Malaysian folk dancers at Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan
on February 2013. The festival, featuring Malaysian food,
music, & travel, was attended by folks from all walks of life. I
watched the show while trying out some Malaysian dishes.
HERE'S THE DEAL - this is the situation
NUANCE - small, slight difference in meaning
A CATCH - something unexpected or an exception
WELL OFF - wealthy; rich
INCIDENTALLY - by the way
WALKS OF LIFE - backgrounds
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