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The meaning of «we»

In Modern English, we is a plural, first-person pronoun.

In Standard Modern English, we has six distinct shapes for five word forms:[1]

There is also a distinct determiner we as in we humans aren't perfect,[1] which some people consider to be just an extended use of the pronoun.

We has been part of English since Old English, having come from Proto-Germanic *wejes, from PIE *we-.[3] Similarly, us was used in Old English as the accusative and dative plural of we, from PIE *nes-.[4] The following table shows the old English first-person plural and dual pronouns:

By late Middle English the dual form was lost and the dative and accusative had merged.[5]:117 The ours genitive can be seen as early as the 12th century. Ourselves replaced original construction we selfe, us selfum in the 15th century,[6] so that, by century's end, the Middle English forms of we had solidified into those we use today.[5]:120

We is not generally seen as participating in the system of gender. In Old English, it certainly didn't. Only third-person pronouns had distinct masculine, feminine, and neutre gender forms.[5]:117 But by the 17th century, that old gender system, which also marked gender on common nouns and adjectives, had disappeared, leaving only pronoun marking. At the same time, a new relative pronoun system was developing that eventually split between personal relative who[7] and impersonal relative which.[8] This is seen as a new personal / non-personal (or impersonal) gender system.[1]:1048 As a result, some scholars consider we to belong to the personal gender, along with who.[citation needed]

We can appear as a subject, object, determiner or predicative complement.[1] The reflexive form also appears as an adjunct.

The contracted object form 's is only possible after the special let of let's do that.

Pronouns rarely take dependents, but it is possible for we to have many of the same kind of dependents as other noun phrases.

We's referents generally must include the speaker, along with other persons. A few exceptional cases, which include nocism, are presented below. We is always definite and specific.

The royal we, or majestic plural (pluralis majestatis), is sometimes used by a person of high office, such as a monarch, earl, or pope. It has singular semantics.

The editorial we is a similar phenomenon, in which an editorial columnist in a newspaper or a similar commentator in another medium refers to themselves as we when giving their opinion. Here, the writer casts themselves in the role of spokesperson: either for the media institution who employs them, or on behalf of the party or body of citizens who agree with the commentary.[9] The reference is not explicit, but is generally consistent with first-person plural.

The author's we, or pluralis modestiae, is a practice referring to a generic third person as we (instead of one or the informal you):

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Choice of words

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we _ - _ _ _ _
wea* web* wec* wed* wee* wef* weg* weh* wei* wej* wek* wel* wem* wen* weo* wep* weq* wer* wes* wet* weu* wev* wew* wex* wey* wez*
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