« Reconsidering Résumés: Advice from a Manager | Main | When Copyediting Isnt Fun: Three Tactics »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Darla-Jean Weaterford

Thanks for this timely observation; I'm editing a book that has erratic uses of "we" that I need to make consistent one way or the other. I think the author would prefer to use it consistently, but he's a bit hesitant. With Zimmer's comments, I wasn't sure how to advise him; with yours, I am.

Linda Seebach

I was an editorial writer at several newspapers, and the editors I worked for accepted the need for an editorial "we" (and unsigned editorials) because "I" would often be inaccurate if several people contributed to an editorial, or if the person who wrote the editorial disagreed with the newspaper's position (not common, but it happens). And "this newspaper" is entirely too stuffy, like referring to oneself in the third person. But the other side of their acceptance was strict observation of the rule that if the newspaper refers to itself in the plural as "we," it should not also use "we" to refer to other groups -- that is, not when it means "we Americans" or "we in Denver" or otherwise includes lots of people who disagree with whatever generalization we are making.

I discovered, when living abroad, that I generally said "we" about Americans when I was describing an opinion or a policy that I agreed with and "Americans" when I disagreed but realized mine was a minority view.


Politicians of any stripe who use "we" when they really mean "I" are especially annoying.

Madeline Koch

The problem I encounter frequently is that "we" within one article can refer to several different constituencies. I find it interesting that I don't seem to notice the confusion so much in stuff that I read or hear. But in stuff I edit -- well, I'm taking a break from editing one such piece in which I've just come across a third meaning in the same 1000 words... Back to the grindstone.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)