What's the appropriate response to "How are we?" and what is it actually referring to?

  • "We", in this sense, is kind of like the "royal we", only in reverse. Often used when "talking down" to a child, or simply when "being familiar" with the individual. "How are we?" basically means "How are you?", but leaves things open to mention family and friends in response to the query.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 12:42
  • Television cooks do it, too: "We" cut up the onion and saute it in vegetable oil.
    – Misti
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 13:18
  • 2
    It's impossible for people of a certain age to hear that question and not feel the infantilizing echoes of A.A. Milne's titles—"When We Were Very Young" and "Now We Are Six"—rustling ghostlike across the years. So the next time someone asks you, "How are we today?" you might consider answering, simply, "Now we are six!"
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 6:18

2 Answers 2


The 'we' in "how are we" is the same 'we' used when a teacher asks a child "Why don't we put down the toy and wash up for lunch?" Dictionary.com:

  1. you (used familiarly, often with mild condescension or sarcasm, as in addressing a child, a patient, etc.): We know that's naughty, don't we? It's time we took our medicine.

"How are we?" Is the question a nurse might ask you when entering the room: "Oh, and how are we doing today?" The proper response is the same response given to "How are you," however truthful or terse you wish to keep said response.


"How are we doing" is a patronizing way of asking, "How are you doing?"

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    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 9:30

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