Word Confusion: We vs. Us

Dear Copy Bitch: I struggle with we vs. us. Consider this example: Your properly formatted text is due at 5:30 p.m. on Monday. However, us slow readers would like to receive it BEFORE then.

Is “us” correct? If not, do you have any ideas about how to get the rule into this squirrelhead?

—Squirrel Lover, Boston

Answer: Yes, Squirrel Lover, there is a simple way to test it (so you’ll need to remember the test).

Remove any nouns (and adjectives) that get in the way of the “we/us” and the verb. So in this case, remove “slow readers” and test it:

1. Us would like to receive it BEFORE then.
2. We would like to receive it BEFORE then.

After you perform this test, the answer is obvious. The second one is correct.

Hope this helps.

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6 replies
  1. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I’m an English teacher and just had a student ask me this question, and I was stumped (which very seldom happens). I still can’t tell her why “we” is correct, but at least I can now give her a trick to figure out the correct version.

    Reply
  2. Casssssie
    Casssssie says:

    Hey I need help with my us and we sentences. Which would this be: These actors will perform for (us,we) children.

    Casssssie

    Reply
  3. robynbradley
    robynbradley says:

    @Cassssie — in this case, it would be “us.” Lose “children” and you’ll see it makes sense:

    THIS: These actors will perform for us.

    NOT THIS: These actors will perform for we.

    Reply

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