Can 'we' be singular?

4

"No problems, were there?" "No, sir - house was almost destroyed, but I got him out all right before the Muggles started swarmin' around. He fell asleep as we was flyin' over Bristol." (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

Can we use was after we, like the example, binding two people as a bunch: as in the case that Chelsea can be both singular and plural?

Listenever

Posted 2013-02-27T11:25:31.473

Reputation: 25 811

2We is plural; the question is if was can be used with we, and which difference there is between we were and we was. The Corpus of Historical American English has 2148 instances of we was. – kiamlaluno – 2013-02-27T11:46:46.617

Answers

9

In spoken English (british) we often hear was after we, like in the example. However it is considered uneducated and incorrect.

The author uses it here to demonstrate the characters' social class and/or background, in this case being below the other characters. Note also how other words are changed or dropped, flying becoming flyin' and no the in front of house.

Adam Brown

Posted 2013-02-27T11:25:31.473

Reputation: 599

That also happens in American English. – ctype.h – 2013-02-27T17:08:26.240

4

This is colloquial variation in the vernacular of some parts of British and American English, and is not Standard English. The Standard English equivalent is this:

He fell asleep as we were flying over Bristol.

Generally English learners should avoid "we was" in all cases other than quoted vernacular speech. English learners should avoid its use in English exams, formal writing and non-dialectic speech.

Matt

Posted 2013-02-27T11:25:31.473

Reputation: 11 728

0

Doesn't (or didn't) royalty use 'we' as a singular? Good old Queen Victoria - 'We are not amused'. Or should she have said 'We is not amused'... I jest.

Tim

Posted 2013-02-27T11:25:31.473

Reputation: 382