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I sometimes hear that in an academic writing or speech you should use "we".

I've also heard that teachers in kindergartens also use "we" for children.

Then, how will it sound when a high school student uses "we" in his or her speech? Doesn't it sound too childish or too academic for a high school student?

Or does it not add any atmosphere concerned with speech styles and so on?

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    It would be good to get more context here. Sometimes academic writing uses "we" because there is more than one author, so it makes sense in that case and isn't some kind of device.
    – cruthers
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 2:36
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    In academic writing 'we' means the author(s). In nursery language 'we' means 'you'. There's nothing wrong with using 'we' in its normal meaning of 'a group of people including me'. Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 10:23
  • Refreshing with a pronoun question that doesn't need to be protected immediately.
    – Stian
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 14:45

2 Answers 2

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You are referring to what is technically known as a "nosism", and informally as "the Royal We". The link I provided should give you some details as to how it is used. The key understanding to take away is that context and usage matters. It is not enough to simply say "a highschooler is using 'we'", we actually need to know how they are using it. Depending on the sentence, it could be a "patronizing we", used by nurses and kindergarten teachers as well as by bullies and mockers, or it could be the proper "authorial we", used in academia, or it could be an "editorial we", used by a leader of a group when speaking for that group, or it could be a pompous "pluralis majestatis", since some highschoolers can have a very high opinion of themselves.

The exact usage and context matters. The person speaking does not.

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  • Oh I see, so when someone says "Many of us know global warming is a serious issue." in a school speech contest, could it be possible for the words to be taken as they are from a leader? Is there any case in which you avoid "we" not to sound patronizing, for example, where you say "Many people know global warming is a serious issue." instead?
    – Nigutumok
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 3:55
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    There is no hard rule I can give you to avoid sounding patronizing... but I will say that your specific example in a speech about global warming would very likely not be seen as patronizing. The most general thing I can say is that if your "we" or "us" says something that is NOT true for the listener, this can be seen as jarring and/or offensive. If your audience consisted of climate-denialists, then it might be viewed as offensive. If you audience consisted of scientists, then saying "many" instead of "all" (or dropping the word) could be offensive. Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 4:09
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    Another thing that can be seen as patronizing is using "we" for a statement that is excessively obvious. Or using "we" for a statement that obviously does not include the speaker. Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 4:11
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    I don't think this is usually the Royal We.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 16:02
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    @Nigutumok I just need to point this out because nobody else seems to have - In the phrase "many of us know global warming is a serious issue", the usage of we has nothing to do with anything discussed in the above answer. That is just a standard usage of the word "we" to mean "me, and at least one other person among the people I'm addressing". The answer here is talking about something like "and what have we learned?" referring only to the person being addressed, or "we performed several experiments", referring only to the author.
    – Jack M
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 16:38
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You should be using "we" in a speech if it makes your argument stronger.

In academic writing (especially in argumentative writing or speeches), using collective pronouns (we, us) is actually encouraged. Using collective pronouns serves for the audience to feel part of a larger collective movement, rather than a "single person". This makes the argument stronger for the audience.

In kindergartens, "we" is likely used similarly. By using "we", and the speaker (adult) doing the thing as well, the children are more likely to accept doing it as well, as opposed to having an adult say "you do this", "you do that". But just because "we" may be used with children, it doesn't make it patronizing because "we" is commonly used everywhere.

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    Oh I see, so as a parent or an adult, you had better use "we" instead of "you" in a lot of cases not to sound arrogant to children. And if you use "we" in a speech, you can speak as if all people are your companions! I understand better.
    – Nigutumok
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 4:08
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    That's exactly correct! I'm glad that my writing was clear :)
    – myacorn
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 8:36
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    @Nigutumok note that if you just want to refer to a group that includes you, then we is always what you want and will never be either childish or pompous. "My friends and I come here often, we love it!" is the only natural way of saying something like that. There's nothing special about standard usage of we as the first person plural pronoun : it is simply the equivalent of I when referring to multiple people including yourself.
    – terdon
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 13:22
  • @terdon Oh, I see! I understand better. Is it also OK to refer to general people with "we"? In general people am included I. Will it not be either childish or pompous in this case, either? I mean about general people which can be referred with "you."
    – Nigutumok
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 1:35
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    @Nigutumok yes, we is always the normal way to refer to a group that includes you. This is what Jack M is saying also. We is only strange if you use it in other ways, if you use it for a group that includes you it is always natural and normal.
    – terdon
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 11:31

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