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Depending on the person using the nosism different uses can be distinguished:
The royal we or pluralis majestatisEdit
The editorial weEdit
The editorial we is a similar phenomenon, in which an editorial columnist in a newspaper or a similar commentator in another medium refers to themself as we when giving their opinion. Here, the writer casts themself in the role of a spokesperson: either for the media institution that employs them, or more generally on behalf of the party or body of citizens who agree with the commentary.
Similar to the editorial we, pluralis modestiae is the practice common in mathematical and scientific literature of referring to a generic third person by we (instead of the more common one or the informal you):
- By adding four and five, we obtain nine.
- We are thus led also to a definition of "time" in physics. – Albert Einstein
We in this sense often refers to "the reader and the author," since the author often assumes that the reader knows and agrees with certain principles or previous theorems for the sake of brevity (or, if not, the reader is prompted to look them up).
This practice is also common in philosophy journals and texts, and comments in computer code.
The patronizing weEdit
The patronizing we is sometimes used in addressing instead of you, suggesting that the addressee is not alone in their situation, that "I am with you, we are in this together." This usage is emotionally non-neutral and usually bears a condescending, ironic, praising, or some other connotation, depending on an intonation: "Aren't we looking cute?" This is sometimes employed by health care workers when addressing their patients; for example, "How are we feeling today?"
The non-confrontative weEdit
In distinction to the patronizing we is the non-confrontative we used in T–V languages such as Spanish where the phrase ¿Cómo estamos? (literally, "How are we?") is sometimes used to avoid both over-familiarity and over-formality among near-peer acquaintances.