This question already has an answer here:

Is it ever OK to use we as a substitute for you? Let me illustrate:

I am increasingly receiving emails from colleagues that contain sentences such as:

  • Can we have a look at this tomorrow please?
  • Can we ensure that we do not...

Now these emails seem innocuous enough, but I know full well that these co-workers have no intention of partaking in the tasks in question.

Would it not be better to say:

  • Can you have a look at this tomorrow please?
  • Can you ensure that you do not...?

Are these people trying to be considerate of my feelings by indirectly giving orders?

I find this use of we to be particularly grating, so some clarity regarding its correct use would be much appreciated.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, jimm101, tchrist Oct 20 '16 at 19:10

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Do they have authority to delegate or are they just trying it on. If the latter, talk to your line manager. – Mick Oct 20 '16 at 8:14
  • 2
    I think that's sometimes referred to as the "schoolteacher we". – Hot Licks Oct 20 '16 at 12:11
  • 1
    I'm with you. This practice is not polite, it is patronizing. – cobaltduck Oct 20 '16 at 13:20
  • Fully agree, this is patronizing and condescending. Treating someone as a child. Also, it is a way of avoiding to be direct with someone. Instead of saying, "I need this by tomorrow" or "I want you not to mention the money issues in front of my parents". – user2840286 Oct 21 '16 at 2:41

It is not an officially recognised 'polite term'to use we in place of you but is very frequently seen in the context you are describing. The idea, as you suggested, is to create an idea of teamwork - an attitude of 'we're all in this together'if you will - and make it feel less like they are giving orders when in fact that is exactly what they are doing.

I agree with you that this transparent attempt to mask orders as teamwork is particularly grating when used repeatedly by people who have no intention of involvement, if you feel like being a bit cheeky you can always use their own words against them and ask when we shall be making these changes ;)

  • "Yes, I can, but the question is, will I?" – John Clifford Oct 20 '16 at 8:28
  • Can you name any ‘polite terms’ that are “officially recognised” as such? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 20 '16 at 10:33
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet - You forgot to say "please". – Hot Licks Oct 20 '16 at 12:12

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.