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I think in all situations where either 一緒に could be used, 二人で can also be used, and vice versa. I suppose 三人、四人、五人、etc. can also be used here if that's the number of people you are talking about.

But I'm curious as to the different connotations (if they exist) in these words/phrases.

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You can also use both: 二人で一緒に. – user458 Jan 22 '12 at 6:03
Also see this answer, and its comments, for insights on 一緒に. – Questioner May 9 '12 at 3:07
up vote 9 down vote accepted

As for connotations:

  • 一緒に行きませんか Would you like to join me/us (no information about how many we are)
  • 二人で行きませんか Let's go just the two of us (sounds a bit like you're inviting someone on a date)

I wouldn't use ○人で unless that exact number is important for some reason.

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One shows the quantity. The other expresses the "togetherness" of the action.

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there is no trick, one is "together", the other is "the both of us". That's it.

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I would say that 二人で has a slightly narrower meaning than "the both of us". "The both of us" does not necessarily exclude more people, but 二人で is 2, no more, no less. – dainichi Jan 22 '12 at 12:47
Do you have example expressing what you are trying to say? Does not make much sense to me. – oldergod Jan 22 '12 at 14:05
To elaborate, I think "both of us" is better translated as 二人とも. For example, let's say you and your wife/husband are invited to go skiing by some friends. If you say 二人とも行きます, it means "both of us will join you", but if you say 二人で行きます, it could be taken as if you're turning down the invitation, saying “we'll go just the two of us (by ourselves)". – dainichi Jan 22 '12 at 16:06
I never heard a case of 二人共 that would include the speaker. But why not. – oldergod Jan 22 '12 at 23:39
@dainichi: Sorry, but "both" is strictly about two people or things. It does necessarily exclude more. So "both of (us, them, whoever...)" is directly equal to 二人. – Questioner May 9 '12 at 3:17

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