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Since childhood, I've always wished there was a distinction between "we" exclusive (me and the others) and "we" inclusive (me and you (and others, optionally)). Russian to the rescue! (Although unfortunately not quite with a single word yet.)

мы с тобой
мы с вами

(I assume this can also be used in other cases: нас с тобой, нам с тобой, ...)

Now, I was reading a book and came across the sentence: "Our experience teaches [...]." Again, I'm yearning for a clarification because from the context, it wasn't clear whether it meant "we, the professionals who are writing this book" or "we, everyone (including you, dear reader)". Naturally, I'm now wondering whether there's a way to make мы с вами possessive? – Наш с ...?

Fun fact: it seems that only some Indic languages in the Indo-European family make a true distinction for clusivity.

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  • This reminds me of something funny in English. When someone says WE and you don't want to be included, you can say: "Who's 'we'? Do you have a mouse in your pocket?" hahahahaha Is there anything like that in Russian?
    – CocoPop
    Sep 10, 2022 at 15:20
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    @CocoPop: Мы — это кто? Мы, Николай II?
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 19, 2022 at 2:15
  • @Quassnoi I love that 😂
    – CocoPop
    Oct 19, 2022 at 17:03

2 Answers 2

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Since childhood I've always wished there was a distinction between "we" exclusive (me and the others) and "we" inclusive (me and you (and others, optionally)). Russian to the rescue! (Although unfortunately not quite with a single word yet.)

мы without с вами is not necessarily exclusive, it can mean "me and you" too. Мы с вами, on the other hand, is unequivocally inclusive of the second person.

There's also мы с ним or мы с ними, inclusive of the third person or persons, although not necessarily exclusive of the second person either.

Naturally, I'm now wondering whether there's a way to make мы с вами possessive? – Наш с ...?

That would be наш с вами:

  • Человек небольшого роста с умными глазами и такой же головой, крупное должностное лицо, наш с вами современник, принял решение не пить.

  • Но это скорее наш с вами просчет, дорогие товарищи.

  • Тут может возникнуть ощущение, что это наш с вами дядя!

The preposition с governs the instrumental case, which does not change.

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  • Thanks! I was not sure if it was possible at all, or if it was something like наш с вашим :)
    – Mister Sir
    Sep 5, 2022 at 14:54
  • Can you please add the tag "clusivity" to my question? Doesn't exist yet and I have too few reputation points.
    – Mister Sir
    Sep 8, 2022 at 13:53
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"Наш с вами опыт учит нас, что..." (Our shared experience teaches that...)

Please note that in books, unless they're targeted at pre-adolescents, it's customary to use вы when referring to the reader.

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  • Thanks also. Another thing English misses: what was wrong with calling your close friends by thee? Even worse, these days it's becoming fashionable to thee everybody, even a bank to their clients! (e.g. in German they started capitalizing "Du")
    – Mister Sir
    Sep 5, 2022 at 14:57
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    @MisterSir I sympathize with you. In Croatian they started to use "ti" (same as Russian ты) in commercials, even radio hosts started doing it on radio. Sometimes younger people that work as cashiers in stores or bakeries or cafes do it. I find it very, very disrespectful (and I am of the younger folks). Both towards people and language.
    – dosvarog
    Sep 6, 2022 at 11:33

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