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If someone is keeping a secret, in the US one might say "tell me!" However, I was in the UK and I heard a person say "tell us!" although she did not appear to be with anyone. Am I misunderstanding or is this common?

  • Looking at the upvoted answer, I must say, this question goes same for the language Hindi where a person thinks himself or herself no less than the King/Queen! – Maulik V Sep 30 '14 at 11:59
  • In Australia we say it quite a lot. Pass us the lighter can you? Can you chuck us my sunnies? Call us when you get the chance! Tell us! Come see us. – Alex Sep 24 '17 at 17:08
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    Something none of the answers has made explicit is that the British (and apparently Australian) use of us for me mostly, and for many speakers solely, used in colloquial imperatives. With the exception of one of Brok's, every example that has been given has been imperative. I might occasionally say "Give us one!" in a very informal context, but I don't think I'd ever say "He gave us it" to mean "me". – Colin Fine Apr 2 at 12:11
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Yes, it's quite common. It's non standard British English, akin to the "royal "we"".

I use it sometimes myself, though I don't really know why. A couple of examples for you that I can hear myself saying:

Excuse us

When making my way through a crowd of people. (It's just me, though sometimes the "us" form sounds a bit nicer.)

Do us a favour!

Used in indignation similar to "Oh, please(!)". Your example is also one where this is a common trait.

This usage is even more common in Newcastle than the rest of the UK, often making its way into lots of everyday phrases.

Give us a call

Just me. Nobody else.

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    I'm not certain this is limited to British English. I'm reasonably sure I was familiar with "us" meaning "me" growing up in Australia. This message seems to support that. – tobyink Sep 30 '14 at 8:50
  • Fair play. I wasn't looking to say it is just Br. Eng. but I'm not qualified to comment on all the other variants of the English language. I wonder where else in the world they use this "us"? – JMB Sep 30 '14 at 12:49
  • My English friend certainly used this a lot more than any American friend has done. I don't think Americans use this in an everyday way like some Britons can. I've also heard it on British TV shows. So I think it is a Brit thing. Of course, if your grew up in Australia, well that usage must have found its way over there. – user6951 Feb 22 '15 at 7:30
  • Definitely used in Western Sydney. I grew up saying it. Eg "Give us a hand." – Pat Mar 6 '18 at 14:46
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"Us" for me is common in the north east (of England) particularly Co Durham Land of Prince Bishops.

It's just an old English way of speaking. Many people say "us" but if they are writing will use the word "me". I was born in Sunderland and I use it some times, depends who I am talking to.

If you listen carefully you may notice

  • "us" meaning me sounds a bit like "uzzz" and
  • "us" meaning you and me sounds like "uss".

That's my family and friends anyway or anyhow as we sometimes say too!:).

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  • Hello and welcome to the site! Thanks for your detailed answer and the local reference! I have taken the liberty to edit your post a tiny bit (just some formatting, really) to make it easier to read. If you don't like it, we can do a roll-back to your version. – Stephie Feb 21 '15 at 21:46
  • +1 I've heard "us" and "we" used by Britons, so it is interesting to read about regional uses. (I live in the US.) – user6951 Feb 22 '15 at 7:33
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Alan Bleasdale's emotive series "Boys from the black stuff" (1982) follows the unfortunate Jimmy (Yosser) Hughes as his life spirals downwards after he loses his job, working with a tarmac gang in Liverpool, to losing his wife and falling foul of the local authorities. Towards the end of the series Yosser, driven to despair, is seen begging for work with his much used request: "Gi's a job" a phrase meaning "Give us (me) a job." Actor Bernard Hughes' use of the vernacular expression added so much to the atmosphere of the scene, of a man desperately hanging on to his dignity in a hopeless situation.

"Us" meaning me appeared in Northern English dialect, (now almost lost in time)"Tha'll tellus owt" (You will tell me anything) as a riposte to an outlandish statement or excuse, tone of voice adding to the weight of the phrase. Here the 'us' often had a two-fold function interpreted as "you will tell me, and any other person in the room, anything, thus both singular and plural in one labour saving sentence, allying the speaker with others about him.

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