Ask Difference

Individual vs. Person — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 11, 2023
An individual refers to a single, distinct entity, often emphasizing uniqueness. A person pertains to a human being, emphasizing human characteristics or identity.
Individual vs. Person — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Individual and Person

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Key Differences

Individual often implies a single, distinct entity within a larger group or context. It emphasizes the idea of singularity and can be used to describe not just humans, but also objects or concepts. Person, on the other hand, is primarily used to describe a human being in terms of their humanity, identity, or legal standing.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 11, 2023
The term individual can be used to highlight the uniqueness or distinct characteristics of someone or something. For instance, in a group, every member might have a role, but each individual will have their specific nuances or ways of approaching that role. Conversely, person often evokes a sense of humanity, rights, feelings, and dignity. It is a term that inherently brings forth the image of a human being.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 11, 2023
In legal contexts, individual might be used to denote any entity, whether it's a person or a corporation. For instance, tax laws or certain regulations might apply to "an individual or business entity." In contrast, person in legal parlance often includes both natural persons (human beings) and juridical persons (entities like corporations which are treated in law as having many of the same rights as humans).
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 11, 2023
From a linguistic perspective, both individual and person can serve as formal ways of referencing someone. For example, "The individual in question was last seen on Tuesday" vs. "The person in question was last seen on Tuesday." However, individual sometimes holds a more detached or neutral connotation, while person has a more immediate human reference.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 11, 2023
Finally, it's worth noting that while every person is an individual, not every individual must be a person. The broader application of individual allows it to encompass a wide range of entities, whereas person is more restrictive and human-centric.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 11, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

A single entity, often emphasizing uniqueness
A human being, emphasizing human characteristics
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Oct 11, 2023

Legal Usage

Can refer to both humans and entities like corporations
Refers to both natural and juridical persons
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Oct 11, 2023

Linguistic Tone

More neutral or detached
More immediate human reference
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Scope

Broader, can describe any single entity
Specific to human beings
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Human Centric

Not necessarily
Yes
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Oct 11, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Individual

An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity. Individuality (or self-hood) is the state or quality of being an individual; particularly (in the case of humans) of being a person unique from other people and possessing one's own needs or goals, rights and responsibilities.
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Sep 09, 2019

Person

A human being as an individual.
There was a person standing at the doorway.
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Individual

A single, distinct entity.
Each individual item in the store has a unique price.
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Person

A character or role, as in a play or story.
She is the main person in the narrative.
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Individual

Intended or designed for one person.
She ordered an individual dessert for herself.
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Person

An individual's character or nature.
She is a kind and gentle person.
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Individual

Existing as an indivisible entity.
The team worked not just as a group, but also as individual units.
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Person

A human or organization with legal rights and duties.
The contract was signed by the authorized person of the company.
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Individual

Single; separate
Individual tiny flowers
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Sep 09, 2019

Person

A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of property, or legal responsibility. The defining features of personhood and, consequently, what makes a person count as a person, differ widely among cultures and contexts.In addition to the question of personhood, of what makes a being count as a person to begin with, there are further questions about personal identity and self: both about what makes any particular person that particular person instead of another, and about what makes a person at one time the same person as they were or will be at another time despite any intervening changes.
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Sep 09, 2019

Individual

Of or for a particular person
The individual needs of the children
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Person

A living human. Often used in combination
Chairperson.
Salesperson. See Usage Note at chairman.
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Individual

A single human being as distinct from a group
Boat trips for parties and individuals
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Person

An individual of specified character
A person of importance.
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Individual

Of or relating to an individual, especially a single human
Individual consciousness.
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Person

The composite of characteristics that make up an individual personality; the self.
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Individual

By or for one person
Individual work.
An individual portion.
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Person

The living body of a human
Searched the prisoner's person.
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Individual

Existing as a distinct entity; separate
Individual drops of rain.
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Person

Physique and general appearance.
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Individual

Marked by or expressing individuality; distinctive or individualistic
An individual way of dressing.
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Person

(Law) A human, corporation, organization, partnership, association, or other entity deemed or construed to be governed by a particular law.
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Individual

Special; particular
Each variety of melon has its individual flavor and texture.
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Person

(Christianity) Any of the three separate individualities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as distinguished from the essence of the Godhead that unites them.
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Individual

Serving to identify or set apart
"There was nothing individual about him except a deep scar ... across his right cheek" (Rebecca West).
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Person

Any of three groups of pronoun forms with corresponding verb inflections that distinguish the speaker (first person), the individual addressed (second person), and the individual or thing spoken of (third person).
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Individual

A single human considered apart from a society or community
The rights of the individual.
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Person

Any of the different forms or inflections expressing these distinctions.
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Individual

A human regarded as a distinctive or unique personality
Always treated her clients as individuals.
Felt he was quite an individual.
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Person

A character or role, as in a play; a guise
"Well, in her person, I say I will not have you" (Shakespeare).
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Individual

A single organism as distinguished from a species, community, or group.
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Person

An individual substance of a rational nature; usually a human being.
Each person is unique, both mentally and physically.
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Individual

A member of a collection or set; a specimen.
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Person

A character or part, as in a play; a specific kind or manifestation of individual character, whether in real life, or in literary or dramatic representation; an assumed character.
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Individual

A person considered alone, rather than as belonging to a group of people.
He is an unusual individual.
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Person

(Christianity) Any one of the three hypostases of the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit.
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Individual

(legal) A single physical human being as a legal subject, as opposed to a legal person such as a corporation.
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Person

Any sentient or socially intelligent being.
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Individual

An object, be it a thing or an agent, as contrasted to a class.
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Person

(in a compound noun or noun phrase) Someone who likes or has an affinity for (a specified thing).
Jack's always been a dog person, but I prefer cats.
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Individual

(statistics) An element belonging to a population.
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Person

(in a compound noun or noun phrase) A human of unspecified gender (in terms usually constructed with man or woman).
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Individual

Relating to a single person or thing as opposed to more than one.
As we can't print them all together, the individual pages will have to be printed one by one.
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Person

(in a compound noun or noun phrase) A worker in a specified function or specialty.
I was able to speak to a technical support person and get the problem solved.
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Individual

Intended for a single person as opposed to more than one person.
Individual personal pension; individual cream cakes
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Person

The physical body of a being seen as distinct from the mind, character, etc.
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Individual

Not divisible without losing its identity.
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Person

(law) Any individual or formal organization with standing before the courts.
At common law a corporation or a trust is legally a person.
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Individual

Not divided, or not to be divided; existing as one entity, or distinct being or object; single; one; as, an individual man, animal, or city.
Mind has a being of its own, distinct from that of all other things, and is pure, unmingled, individual substance.
United as one individual soul.
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Person

The human genitalia; specifically, the penis.
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Individual

Of or pertaining to one only; peculiar to, or characteristic of, a single person or thing; distinctive; as, individual traits of character; individual exertions; individual peculiarities.
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Sep 09, 2019

Person

(grammar) A linguistic category used to distinguish between the speaker of an utterance and those to whom or about whom they are speaking. See grammatical person.
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Individual

A single person, animal, or thing of any kind; a thing or being incapable of separation or division, without losing its identity; especially, a human being; a person.
An object which is in the strict and primary sense one, and can not be logically divided, is called an individual.
That individuals die, his will ordains.
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Sep 09, 2019

Person

(biology) A shoot or bud of a plant; a polyp or zooid of the compound Hydrozoa, Anthozoa, etc.; also, an individual, in the narrowest sense, among the higher animals.
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Individual

An independent, or partially independent, zooid of a compound animal.
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Person

To represent as a person; to personify; to impersonate.
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Individual

A human being;
There was too much for one person to do
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Person

To man, to supply with staff or crew.
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Individual

A single organism
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Person

A character or part, as in a play; a specific kind or manifestation of individual character, whether in real life, or in literary or dramatic representation; an assumed character.
His first appearance upon the stage in his new person of a sycophant or juggler.
No man can long put on a person and act a part.
To bear rule, which was thy partAnd person, hadst thou known thyself aright.
How different is the same man from himself, as he sustains the person of a magistrate and that of a friend!
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Individual

Being or characteristic of a single thing or person;
Individual drops of rain
Please mark the individual pages
They went their individual ways
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Person

The bodily form of a human being; body; outward appearance; as, of comely person.
A fair persone, and strong, and young of age.
If it assume my noble father's person.
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined.
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Individual

Separate and distinct from others of the same kind;
Mark the individual pages
On a case-by-case basis
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Person

A living, self-conscious being, as distinct from an animal or a thing; a moral agent; a human being; a man, woman, or child.
Consider what person stands for; which, I think, is a thinking, intelligent being, that has reason and reflection.
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Sep 09, 2019

Individual

Characteristic of or meant for a single person or thing;
An individual serving
Separate rooms
Single occupancy
A single bed
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Person

A human being spoken of indefinitely; one; a man; as, any person present.
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Individual

Concerning one person exclusively;
We all have individual cars
Each room has a private bath
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Person

A parson; the parish priest.
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Individual

A person distinct from others, often emphasizing unique characteristics.
He is an individual with a strong sense of style.
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Person

Among Trinitarians, one of the three subdivisions of the Godhead (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost); an hypostasis.
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Individual

Concerning or characterized by distinctiveness or differentiation.
Individual talents were showcased at the event.
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Person

One of three relations or conditions (that of speaking, that of being spoken to, and that of being spoken of) pertaining to a noun or a pronoun, and thence also to the verb of which it may be the subject.
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Person

A shoot or bud of a plant; a polyp or zooid of the compound Hydrozoa Anthozoa, etc.; also, an individual, in the narrowest sense, among the higher animals.
True corms, composed of united personæ . . . usually arise by gemmation, . . . yet in sponges and corals occasionally by fusion of several originally distinct persons.
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Person

To represent as a person; to personify; to impersonate.
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Person

A human being;
There was too much for one person to do
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Person

A person's body (usually including their clothing);
A weapon was hidden on his person
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Person

A grammatical category of pronouns and verb forms;
Stop talking about yourself in the third person
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Person

An individual's body or physical presence.
The elevator was too full to accommodate another person.
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Common Curiosities

Can "individual" be used in legal contexts?

Yes, "individual" can refer to both humans and entities like corporations in legal contexts.
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Is "person" always formal in tone?

Not always, but it's often used in formal contexts.
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Is every person an individual?

Yes, every person is an individual.
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Oct 11, 2023

Is the term "person" specific to human beings?

Primarily, yes, but legally it can also refer to entities with human-like rights, like corporations.
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Can "individual" mean unique?

Yes, "individual" can emphasize the idea of being distinct or unique.
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Oct 11, 2023

Can "individual" and "person" be used interchangeably?

Often they can, but context matters as their nuances differ.
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What's a synonym for "individual" when emphasizing uniqueness?

"Distinct" or "particular" can be synonyms in this context.
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Is "person" ever used outside of describing humans?

Rarely in everyday language, but in legal contexts, it can include non-human entities.
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Are there contexts where using "person" is more appropriate than "individual"?

Yes, when emphasizing human characteristics, identity, or rights, "person" is more apt.
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Oct 11, 2023

Can "individual" refer to non-human entities?

Yes, "individual" can refer to non-human entities like objects or concepts.
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Oct 11, 2023

What is a "juridical person"?

A juridical person is an entity, like a corporation, treated in law as having rights similar to a human.
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Oct 11, 2023

Can "individual" be used to describe characteristics?

Yes, for example, "individual preferences" or "individual traits."
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Oct 11, 2023

What's a synonym for "person" when emphasizing humanity?

"Human being" or "individual" can be synonyms in this context.
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Oct 11, 2023

What's the plural form of "person"?

The plural form is "persons" or more commonly "people."
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Oct 11, 2023

What's the plural form of "individual"?

The plural form is "individuals."
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Oct 11, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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