Is it possible in few cases where 'we' is addressed to oneself ?

Maybe in a sense of honor or sometimes in a comic sense

For example -

  1. I do not use the vocabulary of ordinary people. OR

  2. We do not use the vocabulary of ordinary people.

The subject of both the sentences is the same person. That means 'we' in the second sentence means 'I' only. It's just the use 'we' may have been providing it as i said above a comic or a greater sense of honor for oneself.

How often do you come across this use of 'we'?

Is it okay to use it, like, in writings or as a dialogue in a play ?

2 Answers 2


In English, the use of plural pronouns to refer to a single individual is commonly referred to as the "Royal We." It is extremely rare, and is never used by non-royal individuals, even extremely pretentious ones. You could use it as a humorous affectation, but it would be an extremely broad and quite unrealistic effect. It is so unusual that the effect would be more bizarre or delusional than pretentious, unless the person was actually claiming to be royalty.

A similar, more commonly seen pretentious affectation is for individuals to refer to themselves in the third person. For example, in an interview with Madonna, if Madonna said:

No, you will never see a Madonna perfume. Madonna doesn't sell out like that.

that would be an example of referring to oneself in the third person, and would be seen as extremely pretentious, but not as bizarre as if she said:

...We don't sell out like that.

In your example, this would be something like, if the speaker was named Robert:

Robert does not use the vocabulary of ordinary people.

Another, milder, pretension, at least in American English, would be to use the pronoun "one." In your example:

One does not use the vocabulary of ordinary people.

The pronoun "one" is considered formal and somewhat archaic even when used properly, to refer to an indefinite person; when used to refer to oneself, it is also considered highly pretentious.

  • 1
    I think that 'We' could be used in dialogue for either broad comedy or sarcasm, although it is more common to use the third person. I think that there is a difference - referring to yourself in the third person, as in your Madonna example, is more sarcastic and "cool", while using the royal We would be sillier and more slapstick and probably involve a silly voice, exaggerated gestures, and possibly end with a pie to the face.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 20:35
  • 1
    This is generally true for spoken language, but it's not even remotely uncommon to see singular "we" in certain types of writing (most notably, academic papers frequently use "we" even if there is only one author).
    – cpast
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 1:48
  • 2
    I think there is a difference between the royal We and the we used to allude to an anonymous group of people that would state the same thing as the author. The we in academic papers doesn't refer solely to the author, but rather to the team that worked on the research, whether real or imaginary. Some people use the "we" because it seems to give their thoughts more credibility than if only one person expresses them. That "we" isn't intended to refer to themselves as the royal We does. I don't find imaginary friends persuasive, but it's human nature to want to be part of a group I suppose.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 5:54

People use this phrase fairly often, mostly to convey a sense of "oneness" or a single mind of the community referred to as "we." You can use this in writings or dialogue, but be careful about the context. You don't want to assume that the "we" you're referring to has the exact same opinion as you. If you are writing academic papers that are supposed to be in first person (using "I"), "we" is usually not acceptable, unless it's used very sparingly and in appropriate places.

  • 2
    I agree that we (!) use it in this way, but I don't think this is quite a royal or editorial we, which is using the plural form for a singular person. (see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We#The_royal_.22we.22)
    – tunny
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 15:07

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