A friend of mine came to me while I was drinking tea with another person. So two of us were drinking tea and a third person approaching us.
The third person said: "You people came alone". His point was that we didn't call him for tea.

My question is, can two people come alone? Is it not a wrong usage of alone?

  • The usage of "alone" in the question bothers me less than the usage of "below" in the title. – Andreas Blass Nov 6 '14 at 19:05
  • Please leave my children alone. The passing of the Lion king had left the critters of the land in chaos, each tribe alone to their own devices. – Blessed Geek Nov 6 '14 at 19:40

The word alone usually means 'on his / her / its own' or some paraphrase.

However, in

We are not alone

Couples want to be alone together [internet]

it is clearly acceptable for 'alone' also to be applied to an isolated group.

Stylewise, though, there may well be situations where this usage sounds unnatural.

??John, Jill, Tom, Brenda and Fred alone had finished their essays.

Only John, Jill, Tom, Brenda and Fred had finished their essays.

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  • So, is this You people came alone usage justified? – Freakyuser Nov 6 '14 at 16:45
  • 1
    It's certainly not incorrect, but 'You two came without me' is what I'd expect (I'm in the UK). It might sound more natural to US native speakers. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 6 '14 at 16:50
  • As a native speaker of U.S. English, I have the same reservations about it that you two do. And the situation gets worse as more and more people are added to the gathering that excludes the speaker: "Why did the ten of you decide to come here alone [that is, without including me in your company]?" – Sven Yargs Mar 29 '15 at 22:33

Yes, alone can refer to multiple people or things, set apart from others. Oxford Dictionaries gives an example:

They were not alone in dissenting from the advice.

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Yes, the word alone can refer to either one person or a group of multiple people. Some examples include:

We want to be alone. ("we" refers to multiple people)

I sat on the empty, dark-lit street - all alone - just me, the street and the rain. ("I" & "Just me" refers to one person)

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