“How are YOU?” “We’re fine” Gag me.

Today, I bring a rant.

One of my pet peeves is when I ask someone a question about herself and she responds in the plural, telling me how she and her significant other are doing.

“How have you been?”

We’ve been fine.”

“What do you think of this?”

“Well, we think …”

“Can you get to this task?”

“Well, we’ve been busy with work …”

The editor in me feels the need to point out that yes, I realize “you” can be plural or singular. But when I’m asking you how you’re doing, I’m talking about you, the individual. Not you the couple or you the family. I will ask how your significant other or your child is doing as well; of course, I want to know that information too.

But this exchange, this translation of singular to plural, really bothers me. It conveys that people that speak this way cease to exist as individual once they partner up. My significant other can be fine and I can be under the weather. Or vice versa.

Moods and thoughts continue to be individual, people, even if you’re part of a couple.

Ok, that’s all. Sorry, just had to vent.







12 responses to ““How are YOU?” “We’re fine” Gag me.”

  1. Whitney Avatar

    I get both sides. First, I nearly always answer things singularly… because I assume “you” means that you’re asking “me.” But if I’m around my DH, he ALWAYS corrects me and says “you mean we…” THAT drives ME crazy!

    So, for the sake of trying to avoid a correction of my lack of an individual identity, I often simply respond with “we” so I don’t have to listen to the patronizing correction. *sigh* The politics of relationships will never sink in for me.

  2. Heather Avatar

    That bugs me too, but I think it’s because you and I are in the minority in being in committed relationships while also maintaining our own, separate identities. There are lots of people who, for example, would never go on a trip without their S.O. or get a drastic haircut or tattoo without “permission.”
    I answer with “we” if the question is something like “What are you up to tonight?” and the answer is something like, “we’re going to the movies,” and it’s been established that the rest of the “we” is Fraser.

  3. Amy Avatar

    I’m thinking about this and while I don’t always answer with we, my family is always part of the answer. So if you asked me last week it would be I’m a little crazy…Lexi is starting Kindergarten. While I don’t answer with the actual word “we”, my status is always wrapped up in my family and how they are affecting me. In fact, I’m not sure if I would have much status at all if I didn’t include Scott, Emma or Lexi. Maybe my job, exercise or web sites…

    I think it also depends on who I’m talking to. For instance, I think I would answer it singularly if I were talking to you because it’s clear you are my friend (vs. family friend or member). If my grandmother calls, it’s usually “we’re good” because I know she’s actually asking about everyone. Not to say you don’t care but I just know you specifically mean me.

    I would agree though that ALL the time using “we” is unnecessary and the examples you gave are a little irritating.

  4. Melissa Avatar

    Great comments! @Amy, I’m 100% on board with what you’re saying – in fact, if I say “how are you?” and you say, “I’m a little crazy; lexi is starting kindergarten” then I wouldn’t even flinch. It really is about the grammer exchange – if you answered “We’re a little crazy; we’re starting kindergarden” then I’d probably start making gagging sounds. 🙂

    @Heather, you said the key – you use the word we if you’re talking of plans *and it’s been established who the we is.* I’ve gotten so bothered by the other extreme that I’d probably answer the question, “I’m going to the movies with xyz” simply to avoid the singular to plural, but if you and I were chatting about how you’re hanging out with Fraser and I asked “what are you doing tonight?” and you said “we’re going to the movies” then I would think it made sense – plans are different from feelings and moods in that they are plural when you have them with someone, so it makes sense.

    @Whitney – so funny that your husband corrects you! You’re right about the politics of a relationship. I’ll call myself out for a minute here: 8 or so years ago, (when I was still soooo young) when Jeff and I first moved in together, I’d hear him referencing “my house.” I’d get pouty and correct him that it’s “our” house. And then I grew up a little – it *is* his house. It’s also *my* house. But him calling it his doesn’t make it less mine. I’m sure he’s glad I got over that!

  5. Liz Avatar


  6. Crystal Avatar

    well I’m just glad that YOU are blogging 🙂 Missed you there for a while.

  7. Mad Woman behind the Blog Avatar

    I fight for my singular status so you won’t get this from me (unless you overhear me talking to my inlaws…I ain’t dumb!).
    HOWEVER, I think the language is awfully telling, don’t you. She is clearly putting some distance between you, using the relationship as a shield OR this is how she identifies herself…perhaps she feels she didn’t exist until she was a “we.”

    I’m cutting everyone some slack today….need mercy, love or acceptance? Come my way! (hurry, it won’t last!)

  8. Stephanie Avatar

    I use “we” or “us” if I’m talking fairly large sums of money or major time commitments. I will say “I can’t do X because I’m doing Y with Todd” or “before I commit to that, let me talk to Todd.”
    I have to agree with Mad Woman and say that the use of “we” is to create distance. I know that I have used “we” to distance myself from someone in the past.
    Otherwise, I was an only child and then single a long time so “I” is important to me.

  9. Elwood Avatar

    Sadly, I’ve known *a lot* of people who really did cease to exist as an individual when they coupled up, even in the short-term.

    Then they couldn’t figure out why everyone had kind of let them go when they tried to re-connect during the times they were single.

    It’s stupid, and you can tell them we said so. 😀

  10. BusyDad Avatar

    You need to stop hanging out with Royalty. 😉

  11. Kristen Avatar

    I don’t think I have ever had that happen, but it would be really annoying. I don’t really get it.

  12. Staci Avatar

    That would be really annoying. I do not think I have any friends that do that though 🙂