I often hear people saying phrases of the type "How are we doing over here?" by servers at restaurants, for example. Obviously they mean "How are you (plural) doing?" Where does this type of usage of "we" come from? Is this pronoun misuse a regional thing? Has it entered mainstream American English? Am I wrong in thinking that it is incorrect?

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    I invariably respond to the overly cutesy and patronizingly familiar question "How are we today?" with "Not bad. And how are we?" – Robusto Mar 25 '11 at 21:57
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    Where did I see somebody call this the "nurse we"? – Marthaª Mar 25 '11 at 21:59
  • @Robusto: I may steal that. – MrHen Mar 25 '11 at 22:09
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    N.B. The phenomenon occurs in other languages-- I don't see a reason to assume it's restricted to a specific dialect of English. – Neil Coffey Mar 26 '11 at 3:37
  • Indeed, it also happens in Spanish – leonbloy Nov 23 '13 at 17:46


The patronizing "we"

The patronizing we is used sometimes in place of "you" to address a second party, hinting a facetious assurance that the one asked is not alone in his situation, that "I am with you, we are in this together". A doctor may ask a patient: And how are we feeling today? This usage is emotionally non-neutral and usually bears a condescending, ironic, praising, or some other flavor, depending on intonation: "Aren't we looking cute?"

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    Yeah, I suppose it's the "patronizing we" as mentioned in that article, though I doubt that every time it's used, it's meant in a patronizing tone (though I admit it comes across that way). – Jacob Mar 25 '11 at 21:52
  • I agree. Added clarification – mplungjan Oct 14 '20 at 15:27
  • Ok. Noted. Still weird to get voted down at el&u – mplungjan Oct 15 '20 at 4:07

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