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    #1

    paper vs papers

    Can the pieces of paper we write on be referred to as papers?

    Thanks.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: paper vs papers

    Generally not. They are pieces of paper.

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    #3

    Re: paper vs papers

    Yes — or sheets/scraps of paper.

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    #4

    Re: paper vs papers

    Not normally, but there are cases where they can.

    "I wrote several pages of notes at the lecture last week. Now I can't find the sheets of paper that I wrote them on." You can't write the papers there.

    "They said I had to bring my birth certificate and marriage certificate, but when I got to the office, nobody asked to see my papers." Here, papers refers to official documents. In many countries, police officers can demand documents from people. If that's happening in a foreign film, the sub-titles will have the officer say "Papers,​ please." This convention doesn't exist in any Anglophone countries I know of, but if it did, that's the phrase you'd expect to hear.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #5

    Re: paper vs papers

    When students take tests or written exams, their teacher might say: "OK, students, time's up! Hand in your papers."

    Note: Some ESL learners probably don't know that "papers" can also stand for "newspapers": "Do you have any papers to read?"

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    #6

    Re: paper vs papers

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    In many countries, police officers can demand documents from people. If that's happening in a foreign film, the sub-titles will have the officer say "Papers,​ please." This convention doesn't exist in any Anglophone countries I know of, but if it did, that's the phrase you'd expect to hear.
    I remember one time at San Francisco International Airport, an immigration officer said "Show me your papers." It's very unusual, because it sounds like something you might hear spoken with a German accent in a WWII spy movie.
    Translator, editor and TESOL certificate holder, but not a teacher. Native speaker of American English (West Coast)

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