Here is another error that is exceedingly common in the pages of the Straits Times (7 September 2009). Reporting on the launch of this year’s Speak Good English Movement, the newspaper asks young people for their views on whether ‘youths’ are the right target for the campaign.
This use of youths to mean ‘young people’ in general is non-standard. As we can see from the following entry from the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, the word youths as a [C] or countable noun (i.e. singular or plural) can refer only to males, especially teenaged ones involved in violent or criminal activities. However, the Straits Times clearly refers to young people both male and female, engaged in nothing more objectionable than Facebook, Twitter and blogs.