We and us are pronouns, and people sometimes use them before nouns. Do you know when to use we and when to use us?
We sisters meet for lunch once a month.
The principal asked us teachers to come to the pep rally.
Use We for Subjects
Subjects tell us whom or what a sentence is about. Most of the time, subjects come at the beginning of the sentence.
Mary had a little lamb.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Sometimes, subjects come later in the sentence.
Where has my little dog gone?
Over the river, and through the wood, to grandmother's house we go.
Do you know the muffin man?
We is a pronoun. Pronouns can perform different jobs in sentences, but the only job that the pronoun we can perform is the job of the subject. (Pronouns that act as subjects should be in what we call the nominative or subjective case.)
We read all of the nursery rhymes.
Should we read them again?
When you want to use we or us before a noun, first decide whether or not the noun is the subject. If it is, use the pronoun we. If it's not, you must be dealing with an object and you'll want to use the other first-person plural pronoun: us.
What did we boys read when we were little?
Boys is the subject of the sentence, so we use the pronoun we.
Use Us for Objects
Us is also a pronoun, but it's not a subject pronoun.
Us in an object pronoun that can be used as the object of a preposition or the object of a verb. (Pronouns that act as objects are in what we call the objective case.)
Mary waved at us. --> Us is the object of the preposition at.
The king's horse kicked us. --> Us is the direct object of the verb kicked.
When you want to use we or us before a noun, decide if the noun is a subject or an object. If it's an object, choose us.
Mary waved at us kids.
Kids is an object of the preposition, so we use the pronoun us.
If All Else Fails...
If all of this subject and object talk is confusing, you can probably find the right answer without knowing subjects from objects.
1. We/Us sisters meet for lunch once a month.
2. What did we/us boys read when we were little?
3. Mary waved at we/us kids.
Let's say you can't figure out if sisters, boys, and kids are subjects or objects, and that means you don't know if you should use we or us.
You can find the right answer by temporarily dropping the noun coming after the pronoun. Once you do that, you'll probably be able to determine which pronoun to use by using your own sense of what sounds right.
1. We/Us meet for lunch once a month.
2. What did we/us read when we were little?
3. Mary waved at we/us.
Having dropped sisters, boys, and kids, our sense of what sounds right is now more likely to match what is right. Did this trick work for you? Did you get 1) we, 2) we, and 3) us?
P.S. This lesson is very closely related to our who/whom lesson.