One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself and one or more other people considered together.‘shall we have a drink?’
- ‘Two weeks later Clare was moved to a children's home and we didn't see her any more.’
- ‘We're hoping to do that this year.’
- 1.1 Used to refer to the speaker together with other people regarded in the same category.‘nobody knows kids better than we teachers do’
- ‘A problem also touched upon in Ben's comments is the fact that we ex-pats are not allowed to vote in our countries of residence either.’
- ‘Can't we politicians all just get along?’
- 1.2 People in general.‘we should eat as varied and well-balanced a diet as possible’
- ‘We all need someone we can talk to.’
- ‘We all have to die some day.’
2Used in formal contexts for or by a royal person, or by a writer or editor, to refer to himself or herself.‘in this section we discuss the reasons’
- ‘Next we shall analyse the influence of economic status on various aspects of life, such as standard of living and education of children.’
- ‘Still others say the queen was disposed to say ‘We are not amused’ whenever the conversation took a ribald turn.’
3Used condescendingly to refer to the person being addressed.‘how are we today?’
- ‘‘Hello, Brian. How are we feeling today?’’
- ‘Now are we going to get dressed and go to school?’
- ‘‘My my, aren't we looking nice today,’ she said and got his attention.’
Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wij and German wir.
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