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The usage of "we"

  1. Mar 17, 2017 #1
    I'm writing a site covering analytical geometry and basic linear algebra and came accross this language issue.

    Is there much a difference between "We proved that..." and "The result is..."? Sometimes I use "we", sometimes not.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2017 #2

    phinds

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    Why bother with "we", which brings up the question of "who is WE", when you've got the perfectly good "the result is ..." ?
     
  4. Mar 17, 2017 #3

    vela

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    Because overuse of the verb "to be" tends to make for dull reading.
     
  5. Mar 17, 2017 #4

    symbolipoint

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    Nothing is really wrong with an impersonal "One", who could be either the narrator, or any unknown person reading the written passage, or any person unnamed who could potentially be participating in what is being narrated.
     
  6. Mar 21, 2017 #5
    I prefer to avoid first person in scholarly writing. But when it is used, we always use it to refer to the co-authors. Some of my co-authors like it, and some publication venues tend to prefer the active rather than the passive voice.

    A lot of academic contests and courses have shifted more strongly to preferring first person narratives and active voice in the last 30 years. It's not a big enough deal to twist arms over.
     
  7. Mar 21, 2017 #6

    DrClaude

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    I like the "we" to mean inclusively the author and the reader: "We see in figure 1..." "If we Taylor-expand the equation, we find..."
     
  8. Apr 2, 2017 #7

    jtbell

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    I actually prefer the active voice myself (*I" or "we"), but I can't help thinking of this:

    f10a96114007595af0991f845bde7782.jpg
     
  9. Apr 2, 2017 #8
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
  10. Apr 2, 2017 #9

    epenguin

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    The use of 'we' is absolutely usual in mathematical textbooks. For primary mathematical literature of course I do not know, and the question would apply not just to now, but for nearly 200 years of such publishing.

    Publishing somewhat mathematical arguments in biochemistry journals I used to run up against referees who seem not to have read much maths. One of them once asked me whether the 'we' in my argument was 'the Royal we?' :rolleyes:
     
  11. Apr 2, 2017 #10
    One of my English teachers taught us about the editorial "we." She said writers use "we" sometimes in order to avoid the use of "I," because excessive use of the "I" word seems egotistical.

    On the other hand, there is also the royal "we," as in Queen Victoria's famous "we are not amused."
     
  12. Apr 2, 2017 #11
    I have often used "we" in lecturing in an attempt to draw the students into the discussion, to make them feel that they are participating in the development I am doing on the board.
     
  13. Apr 2, 2017 #12

    phinds

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    Yes, good idea but not relevant to the OP's situation.
     
  14. Apr 3, 2017 #13
    I fail to see a great distinction between writing a web site and giving a lecture. In each case, we are trying to communicate information, and it is a relatively informal medium, not an archival journal.
     
  15. Apr 3, 2017 #14

    phinds

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    I think that when you are giving a lecture, it's very clear that "we" means you and the audience. Not so clear to people reading a web site. It could easily be interpreted then as "we, the authorities".
     
  16. Apr 3, 2017 #15
    You win!
     
  17. Apr 5, 2017 #16
    A man has to do what a man has to do and we all know it.
     
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