- Used by the speaker or writer to indicate the speaker or writer along with another or others as the subject: We made it to the lecture hall on time. We are planning a trip to Arizona this winter.
- Used to refer to people in general, including the speaker or writer: “How can we enter the professions and yet remain civilized human beings?” ( Virginia Woolf )
- Used instead of I, especially by a writer wishing to reduce or avoid a subjective tone.
- Used instead of I, especially by an editorialist, in expressing the opinion or point of view of a publication's management.
- Used instead of I by a sovereign in formal address to refer to himself or herself.
- Used instead of you in direct address, especially to imply a patronizing camaraderie with the addressee: How are we feeling today?
Origin of we
Middle English from
Old English wē
; see we-
in Indo-European roots.
Usage Note: Appositive nouns or noun phrases sometimes lead writers and speakers to choose incorrect pronoun forms. Thus us is frequently found in constructions such as Us owners will have something to say about the contract, where we is required as the subject of the sentence. Less frequently, we is substituted in positions where us should be used, as in For we students, it's a no-win situation. In all cases, the function of the pronoun within the sentence should determine its form, whether or not it is followed by a noun or noun phrase. See Usage Note at be. See Usage Note at I 1.
(first-person plural, nominative case, objective case us, reflexive ourselves, possessive our, possessive noun ours)
- (personal) The speakers/writers, or the speaker/writer and at least one other person.
- (personal) The speaker/writer alone. (The use of we in the singular is the editorial we, used by writers and others, including royalty"”the royal we"”as a less personal substitute for I. The reflexive case of this sense of we is ourself.)
- (personal) Plural form of you, including everyone being addressed.
- How are we all tonight?
- The meaning of you, plural is generally restricted to specific contexts such as where a server is addressing a table of guests in a restaurant.
- The speakers/writers, or the speaker/writer and at least one other person.
- We Canadians like to think of ourselves as different.
From Middle English, from Old English wÄ“ (“we"), from Proto-Germanic *wÄ«z, *wiz (“we"), from Proto-Indo-European *wÃ©y (“we (plural)"). Cognate with Scots wee, we (“we"), North Frisian we (“we"), West Frisian wy (“we"), Low German wi (“we"), Dutch we, wij (“we"), German wir (“we"), Danish, Swedish and Norwegian vi (“we"), Icelandic vÃ©r, viÃ° (“we").