I have some doubts about which form, “the rich” or “the rich people”, that I should use here:
- Some people think that the rich don’t pay enough tax.
- Some people think that the rich people don’t pay enough tax.
Which of the two sentences is acceptable English? And what part of speech is the word “rich” in both #1 and #2, adjective or noun?
In Sentence 1, the word rich functions as a mass noun. In Sentence 2, rich is an adjective modifying people.
To express it in a more natural way, you really should remove the word “the” from the second sentence:
1.Some people think that the rich don’t pay enough tax.
2.Some people think that rich people don’t pay enough tax.
When used as a mass noun, we use the word “the” in front of the word “rich.” The same goes for poor:
You will always have the poor among you. (Matt 26:11, NLT)
but this article gets omitted with the word is used as an adjective modifying people:
Everything was shiny and new. Even the sun seemed brighter. There were no poor people here. Where had they gone? (Charles Fleming, 2004)
Check out the Macmillan entry for rich for more on this:
rich (adj) 1 owning a lot of money, property, or valuable possessions : *His invention has made him a rich man._
a. the rich
people who have a great deal of money, property, or valuable possessions : a tax-cutting program that will only benefit the rich
(the) rich and (the) poor : the increasing gap between the rich and the poor