by Randy Murray on April 22, 2014

Here’s another difficult and perilous word for writers: “we.”

‘We’ is safe enough when reporting facts. “We went to the Waffle House.” Nothing dangerous about that “we.”

But when using this pronoun to describe experiences it is very difficult to do so authentically. Who are you to say how others think or feel without asking them? “We were all angry and upset when the traffic came to a complete stop.” What about that person over there? Or that other one? Are they angry? Are they upset? Or is it just you?

And here’s a very real possibility: “we” are not acting in common. We don’t want the same things.

Be careful when you ascribe your personal thoughts and feelings to the group. Pay close attention whenever you use “we.” What do “we” really want?

Today, or sometime soon, while you’re out with family or friends, take out your notebook. Now ask yourself this: what do we want? Don’t ask the others with you, just write what you think that your group, the “we” group, wants. Is there a group objective? Is it really shared by all? And if it’s not, what else does your group want? Can you clearly determine the want of the “we” without asking?

They may want you to put away your notebook. You may want to write. But what do we want, if anything?

We, like it, is a difficult pronoun if you use the word with careful thought.

We by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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