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Can You Use Pronouns In Academic Writing | (Mis)Using Pronouns In Academic Writing Quick Answer

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In academic or college writing, most formal essays and research reports use third person pronouns and do not use “I” or “you.” An essay is the writer’s analysis about a topic.Do: Use the first person singular pronoun appropriately, for example, to describe research steps or to state what you will do in a chapter or section. Do not use first person “I” to state your opinions or feelings; cite credible sources to support your scholarly argument.Business documents are generally written without the use of personal pronouns, that is “I” , “you”, “we”, “they” and even “it”. This is particularly the case when writing reports and contractual documents. The main reasons why personal pronouns are avoided is the necessity to make documents completely clear in meaning.

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How to Effectively Use Pronouns in Academic Writing – Enago

Pronouns can be singular (I, me, he, she, you, it) or plural (they, them, we, etc.). However, their roles are limited to stand-in for either the subject or the …

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Use of Pronouns in Academic Writing | A Definite Guide

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Gendered Pronouns and the Singular “They” – Proofed

In academic writing, this can be problematic, so what should you do if you want to avo using gendered pronouns in a paper?

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Writing academically: Personal pronouns – LibGuides

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How to Effectively Use Pronouns in Academic Writing – Trinka

How to Effectively Use Pronouns in Academic Writing … Pronouns are usually called the understudies of English grammar as they play the role of stand-ins for …

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  • Author: Gregg Fields
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  • Date Published: Jun 30, 2020
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Can we use first person pronoun in academic writing?

Do: Use the first person singular pronoun appropriately, for example, to describe research steps or to state what you will do in a chapter or section. Do not use first person “I” to state your opinions or feelings; cite credible sources to support your scholarly argument.

Should pronouns be used in professional writing?

Business documents are generally written without the use of personal pronouns, that is “I” , “you”, “we”, “they” and even “it”. This is particularly the case when writing reports and contractual documents. The main reasons why personal pronouns are avoided is the necessity to make documents completely clear in meaning.

Why should we avoid personal pronouns in academic writing?

Rule: Avoid first and second-person pronouns

The reason you should avoid first-person pronouns in academic writing is that they can weaken the ethos (credibility and trustworthiness) of yourself as the author. Claims that you make as an author should be supported by evidence (such as research and logic).

Do personal pronouns use such as I and we is acceptable in academic writing?

When we write, our tendency is to personalize the text by writing in the first person. That is, we use pronouns such as “I” and “we”. This is acceptable when writing personal information, a journal, or a book. However, it is not common in academic writing.

Which is not acceptable in academic writing?

You should try to avoid expressions that are too informal, unsophisticated, vague, exaggerated, or subjective, as well as those that are generally unnecessary or incorrect.

Is it okay to use pronouns in research paper?

In academic or college writing, most formal essays and research reports use third person pronouns and do not use “I” or “you.” An essay is the writer’s analysis about a topic. The essay is based on the writer’s ideas and experience, not on other sources of information the writer has researched.

Do we use HE she in academic writing?

In academic writing, first-person pronouns (I, we) may be used depending on your field. Second person pronouns (you, yours) should almost always be avoided. Third person pronouns (he, she, they) should be used in a way that avoids gender bias.

How do you refer to yourself in academic writing?

Use first-person pronouns in APA Style to describe your work as well as your personal reactions. If you are writing a paper by yourself, use the pronoun “I” to refer to yourself. If you are writing a paper with coauthors, use the pronoun “we” to refer yourself and your coauthors together.

How do you say I in academic writing?

If you wanted to say “I will present”, or “I have described”, then the alternative will be “the essay will present”, or “as described in the essay.” Another method of replacing “I” in an essay is using appropriate wording like “this writer” if the verb’s action is not within the text.

How do you stop saying I in an essay?

Use the third person point of view.

Never use “I,” “my,” or otherwise refer to yourself in formal academic writing. You should also avoid using the second-person point of view, such as by referring to the reader as “you.” Instead, write directly about your subject matter in the third person.

Can you avoid using pronouns?

When you are referring not to a specific individual but to a type of individual, you can avoid both gender-specific pronouns and the incorrect use of the pronoun “their” by using a plural subject.

How do you avoid first person in academic writing?

Apply it to any paper you write.
  1. Do not use first or second person anywhere in your essay. …
  2. Do not use contractions in formal writing. …
  3. Spell out small numbers – for sure all below ten. …
  4. The very first paragraph must have a clear and explicit thematic statement at the end! …
  5. Do not start the essay with a definition.

Can you use pronouns in technical writing?

In technical communication, where the focus is on conveying data and important information, it is common for writers to avoid using personal pronouns (I, you, he, she, we, etc.). This is one reason writers opt for the passive voice—saying “The wire was cut” rather than “I cut the wire.”

Can you use he or she in APA format?

Do not use “he” or “she” alone as generic third-person singular pronouns. Use combination forms such as “he or she” and “she or he” only if you know that these pronouns match the people being described. Do not use combination forms such as “(s)he” and “s/he.”

Business Document Writing: Avoiding the use of personal pronouns

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Use of Personal Pronouns

Business documents are generally written without the use of personal pronouns, that is “I” , “you”, “we”, “they” and even “it”. This is particularly the case when writing reports and contractual documents.

The main reasons why personal pronouns are avoided is the necessity to make documents completely clear in meaning. The following paragraphs provide and example of what can go wrong when personal pronouns are used.

Removing personal pronoun example 1

“Machine operators have experienced difficulty in obtaining sufficient raw materials to ensure smooth production flow. Section supervisors have been asked to provide suggestions to management. They are making strenuous efforts to maintain production targets.”

In the above paragraph does the “they” refer to Machine Operators or Section Supervisors? It is not possible to tell easily.

The last sentence should more properly read:

“All staff are making strenuous efforts to maintain production flows despite difficulty in obtaining sufficient raw materials”.

Removing personal pronoun example 2

“Machine operators must commence work at 7:00am tomorrow. Office staff commence one hour later at 8:00am. You must report on production volume by no later than one hour after the shift ends.”

In the above paragraph does the “you” refer to Machine Operators, Section Supervisors or both? Whose responsibility is it to do the reporting on production volume.

The last sentence should more properly read:

” Machine operators are required to report on production volume by no later than one hour after the shift ends.”

The case for avoiding personal pronouns does not seem to make sense at first. School students first learn to write using personal pronouns in primary school and old habits die very slowly. Sometimes students need a lot of convincing to make the change. However, when students are shown a well written document without any personal pronouns, the benefit becomes quite obvious.

Where there is a need for the author of a report to mention themselves, or provide their own opinion, there is a special way to do this that complies with the 3rd person rule. For example, instead of saying “ I think that . . . . ” it would be better to say “In the opinion of the author . . . .”

Noel Studio for Academic Creativity

Rule: Avoid first and second-person pronouns

First-person pronouns: I, me, we, and us

The reason you should avoid first-person pronouns in academic writing is that they can weaken the ethos (credibility and trustworthiness) of yourself as the author. Claims that you make as an author should be supported by evidence (such as research and logic). When you use a first-person pronoun such as “I,” you risk indicating that your claims are merely your beliefs rather than substantiated reasoning.

Second-person pronoun: you

The pronoun “you” plagues both students (in their frequent use of it) and instructors (in their frequent reading of it) alike. Using “you” in a paper poses two potential issues: 1) it masks the real person or persons being referred to, and 2) it can offend or exclude the reader. Students often use “you” when they think they are discussing the general public but are more than likely actually talking about a specific group of people. Consider the example below:

Whenever a child asks for a snack, you should give him or her healthy options.

This sentence has created an ambiguous “you.” Who is this mysterious person? Is he or she the only person who should give a child healthy snacks? It seems that the author is actually trying to refer to a broad but specific group of people: parents.

The direct address of “you” in the above sentence also indicates that the information is only relevant to and intended for readers who have children, thereby excluding those who do not.

A revision of the sentence to identify a specific group and include all interested readers might look like this:

Whenever children ask for a snack, parents should give them healthy options.

Exceptions to the Rule

We Vs. They: Using the First & Third Person in Research Papers

We Vs. They: Using the First & Third Person in Research Papers

Writing in the first, second, or third person is referred to as the author’s point of view. When we write, our tendency is to personalize the text by writing in the first person. That is, we use pronouns such as “I” and “we”. This is acceptable when writing personal information, a journal, or a book. However, it is not common in academic writing.

Some writers find the use of first, second, or third person point of view a bit confusing while writing research papers. Since second person is avoided while writing in academic or scientific papers, the main confusion remains within first or third person.

In the following sections, we will discuss the usage and examples of the first, second, and third person point of view.

First Person Pronouns

The first person point of view simply means that we use the pronouns that refer to ourselves in the text. These are as follows:

I

We

Me

My

Mine

Us

Our

Ours

Can we use I or We In the Scientific Paper?

Using these, we present the information based on what “we” found. In science and mathematics, this point of view is rarely used. It is often considered to be somewhat self-serving and arrogant. It is important to remember that when writing your research results, the focus of the communication is the research and not the persons who conducted the research. When you want to persuade the reader, it is best to avoid personal pronouns in academic writing even when it is personal opinion from the authors of the study. In addition to sounding somewhat arrogant, the strength of your findings might be underestimated.

For example:

Based on my results, I concluded that A and B did not equal to C.

In this example, the entire meaning of the research could be misconstrued. The results discussed are not those of the author; they are generated from the experiment. To refer to the results in this context is incorrect and should be avoided. To make it more appropriate, the above sentence can be revised as follows:

Based on the results of the assay, A and B did not equal to C.

Second Person Pronouns

The second person point of view uses pronouns that refer to the reader. These are as follows:

You

Your

Yours

This point of view is usually used in the context of providing instructions or advice, such as in “how to” manuals or recipe books. The reason behind using the second person is to engage the reader.

For example:

You will want to buy a turkey that is large enough to feed your extended family. Before cooking it, you must wash it first thoroughly with cold water.

Although this is a good technique for giving instructions, it is not appropriate in academic or scientific writing.

Third Person Pronouns

The third person point of view uses both proper nouns, such as a person’s name, and pronouns that refer to individuals or groups (e.g., doctors, researchers) but not directly to the reader. The ones that refer to individuals are as follows:

She

Her

Hers (possessive form)

He

Him

His (possessive form)

It

Its (possessive form)

One

One’s (possessive form)

The third person point of view that refers to groups include the following:

Everyone

Anyone

Them

They

Their (possessive form)

Theirs (plural possessive form)

For example:

Everyone at the convention was interested in what Dr. Johnson presented. The instructors decided that the students should help pay for lab supplies. The researchers determined that there was not enough sample material to conduct the assay.

The third person point of view is generally used in scientific papers but, at times, the format can be difficult. We use indefinite pronouns to refer back to the subject but must avoid using masculine or feminine terminology. For example:

A researcher must ensure that he has enough material for his experiment. The nurse must ensure that she has a large enough blood sample for her assay.

Many authors attempt to resolve this issue by using “he or she” or “him or her,” but this gets cumbersome and too many of these can distract the reader. For example:

A researcher must ensure that he or she has enough material for his or her experiment. The nurse must ensure that he or she has a large enough blood sample for his or her assay.

These issues can easily be resolved by making the subjects plural as follows:

Researchers must ensure that they have enough material for their experiment. Nurses must ensure that they have large enough blood samples for their assay.

Exceptions to the Rules

As mentioned earlier, the third person is generally used in scientific writing, but the rules are not quite as stringent anymore. It is now acceptable to use both the first and third person pronouns in some contexts, but this is still under controversy.

In a February 2011 blog on Eloquent Science, Professor David M. Schultz presented several opinions on whether the author viewpoints differed. However, there appeared to be no consensus. Some believed that the old rules should stand to avoid subjectivity, while others believed that if the facts were valid, it didn’t matter which point of view was used.

First or Third Person: What Do The Journals Say

In general, it is acceptable in to use the first person point of view in abstracts, introductions, discussions, and conclusions, in some journals. Even then, avoid using “I” in these sections. Instead, use “we” to refer to the group of researchers that were part of the study. The third person point of view is used for writing methods and results sections. Consistency is the key and switching from one point of view to another within sections of a manuscript can be distracting and is discouraged. It is best to always check your author guidelines for that particular journal. Once that is done, make sure your manuscript is free from the above-mentioned or any other grammatical error.

You are the only researcher involved in your thesis project. You want to avoid using the first person point of view throughout, but there are no other researchers on the project so the pronoun “we” would not be appropriate. What do you do and why? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

How to Effectively Use Pronouns in Academic Writing

Pronouns are simple to define but can be confusing to use. For example, the statement, “Each person should follow their dreams,” represents a failure to correctly balance the singular (each person) and the plural (their dreams). Correcting the statement can be done in two ways:

Each person should follow his or her dream (to balance the singular)

All people should follow their dreams (to balance the plural)

Pronouns are often referred to as the understudies of English grammar because they are called upon to stand in for nouns (that are then referred to as antecedents because they are being replaced by pronouns). Pronouns can be singular (I, me, he, she, you, it) or plural (they, them, we, etc.). However, their roles are limited to stand-in for either the subject or the object of a sentence:

The girl spent the weekend sewing the girl’s dress so that the girl would have enough time to make alterations to the dress on Monday.

Related: Having difficulty with language and grammar in your manuscript? Check out these helpful resources now!

The above sentence demonstrates how clumsy and repetitious writing can be without the use of pronouns. When properly used, the sentence can be cleaned up as follows:

The girl spent the weekend sewing her dress so that she would have enough time to make alterations to it on Monday.

The antecedents (nouns being replaced) are clearly matched to each pronoun: her (the girl), she (the girl), it (the dress).

Important Cases

Maintaining a clear match between pronouns and their antecedents becomes easier if you remember that pronouns come in three cases:

Subjective case – the doer (subject) of the action: I throw the ball.

case – the doer (subject) of the action: throw the ball. Objective case – the receiver (object) of the action: Throw the ball to me.

case – the receiver (object) of the action: Throw the ball to Possessive case – shows ownership: My throw struck the player out!

Rules of Pronoun Use

To avoid noun repetition and use pronouns effectively, you should remember the different types of pronouns and the way they can be used in a sentence:

Personal pronouns represent people or things: I came to see him today.

represent people or things: I came to see him today. Demonstrative pronouns point out someone or something: This is his bat; that is your ball.

point out someone or something: This is his bat; that is your ball. Relative pronouns relate one part of a sentence to another: One country that I’d like to visit someday is New Zealand (that relates to country).

relate one part of a sentence to another: One country that I’d like to visit someday is New Zealand (that relates to country). Reflexive pronouns (also called intensive pronouns) reflect back to someone or something else in the sentence: You must ask yourself what you did to get into this situation (Yourself relates back to you).

(also called intensive pronouns) reflect back to someone or something else in the sentence: You must ask yourself what you did to get into this situation (Yourself relates back to you). Interrogative pronouns ask a question (interrogate): What in the world were you thinking?

Indefinite pronouns do not refer to a specific place or thing that has already been mentioned in a sentence. This can be confusing because that thing may be very definite and can be singular or plural. Example: someone/somebody and everyone/everybody.

A Simple Check

Learning the correct rules of pronoun use can appear to be overwhelming—so many types in so many cases! However, checking the correct use of a pronoun is relatively simple. First, read the sentence back to yourself and trust your ear. An incorrect balance between pronoun and antecedent simply won’t sound right:

Fidel Castro’s communist principles inevitably led to ideological differences between he and President Kennedy.

The need to correct “he’” to “him’ is an easy catch because the sentence doesn’t sound right as written. When multiple antecedents are involved, you can check your pronoun use by replacing each antecedent with its original noun to check that you are using the correct pronoun.

Use of Pronouns in Academic Writing

If you are writing about a situation involving only yourself or if you are the sole author of the paper, then use the singular pronouns (I, my). Use plural pronouns (We, They, Our) when there are coauthors to work.

Avoid overusing first-person pronouns in academic papers regardless of the style guide used. It is recommended to use them only where required for improving the clarity of the text.

It will be fair to say that first-person pronouns are increasingly regular in many forms of academic writing. If ever in doubt whether or not you should use first-person pronouns in your essay or assignment, speak with your tutor to be entirely sure.

Similarly, you will find some leniency towards the use of first-person pronouns in some academic disciplines, while others strictly prohibit using them to maintain an impartial and neutral tone.

While some style guides, such as ‘APA” and “Harvard”, encourage first-person pronouns when describing the author’s actions, many other style guides discourage their use in academic writing to keep the attention to the information presented within rather than who describes it.

The use of first-person pronouns, such as “I” and “We”, is a widely debated topic in academic writing.

In the above sentence, it is unclear what the pronoun “it” is referring to.

Make sure the antecedent is evident and explicit whenever you use a pronoun in a sentence. You may want to replace the pronoun with the noun to eliminate any vagueness.

The antecedent of a pronoun is the noun that the pronoun represents. In English, you will see the antecedent appear both before and after the pronoun, even though it is usually mentioned in the text before the pronoun. The students could not complete the work on time because they procrastinated for too long. Before he devoured a big burger, Michael looked a bit nervous.

First-person pronouns (I, We) are rarely used in academic writing. They are primarily used in a reflective piece, such as a reflective essay or personal statement. You should avoid using second-person pronouns such as “you” and “yours”. The use of third-person pronouns (He, She, They) is allowed, but it is still recommended to consider gender bias when using them in academic writing.

Pronouns are words that make reference to both specific and nonspecific things and people. They are used in place of nouns.

You can avoid first-person pronouns by employing any of the following three methods.

There are advantages and disadvantages of each of these three strategies. For example, passive voice introduces dangling modifiers, which can make your text unclear and ambiguous. Therefore, it would be best to keep first-person pronouns in the text if you can use them.

In some forms of academic writing, such as a personal statement and reflective essay, it is completely acceptable to use first-person pronouns.

The Problem with the Editorial We

Avoid using the first person plural to refer to people in academic text, known as the “editorial we”. The use of the “editorial we” is quite common in newspapers when the author speaks on behalf of the people to express a shared experience or view.

Refrain from using broad generalizations in academic text. You have to be crystal clear and very specific about who you are making reference to. Use nouns in place of pronouns where possible.

When we tested the data, we found that the hypothesis to be incorrect.

When the researchers tested the data, they found the hypothesis to be incorrect.

As we started to work on the project, we realized how complex the requirements were.

As the students started to work on the project, they realized how complex the requirements were.

If you are talking on behalf of a specific group you belong to, then the use of “we” is acceptable.

It is essential to be aware of our own

It is essential for essayists to be aware of their own weaknesses.

Essayists need to be aware of their own

Use of Second Person Pronouns (You) in Academic Writing

It is strictly prohibited to use the second-person pronoun “you” to address the audience in any form of academic writing. You can rephrase the sentence or introduce the impersonal pronoun “one” to avoid second-person pronouns in the text.

To achieve the highest academic grade, you must avoid procrastination.

To achieve the highest academic grade, one must avoid procrastination.

As you can notice in below Table 2.1, all participants selected the first option.

As shown in below Table 2.1, all participants selected the first option.

Use of Third Person Pronouns (He, She, They) in Academic Writing

Third-person pronouns in the English language are usually gendered (She/Her, He/Him). Educational institutes worldwide are increasingly advocating for gender-neutral language, so you should avoid using third-person pronouns in academic text.

In the older academic text, you will see gender-based nouns (Fishermen, Traitor) and pronouns (him, her, he, she) being commonly used. However, this style of writing is outdated and warned against in the present times.

You may also see some authors using both masculine and feminine pronouns, such as “he” or “she”, in the same text, but this generally results in unclear and inappropriate sentences.

Considering using gender-neutral pronouns, such as “they”, ‘there”, “them” for unknown people and undetermined people. The use of “they” in academic writing is highly encouraged. Many style guides, including Harvard, MLA, and APA, now endorse gender natural pronouns in academic writing.

On the other hand, you can also choose to avoid using pronouns altogether by either revising the sentence structure or pluralizing the sentence’s subject.

When a student is asked to write an essay, he can take a specific position on the topic.

When a student is asked to write an essay, they can take a specific position on the topic.

When students are asked to write an essay, they are expected to take a specific position on the topic.

Students are expected to take a specific position on the essay topic.

The writer submitted his work for approval

The writer submitted their work for approval.

The writers submitted their work for approval.

The writers’ work was submitted for approval.

Make sure it is clear who you are referring to with the singular “they” pronoun. You may want to rewrite the sentence or name the subject directly if the pronoun makes the sentence ambiguous.

For example, in the following example, you can see it is unclear who the plural pronoun “they” is referring to. To avoid confusion, the subject is named directly, and the context approves that “their paper” addresses the writer.

If the writer doesn’t complete the client’s paper in time, they will be frustrated.

The client will be frustrated if the writer doesn’t complete their paper in due time.

If you need to make reference to a specific person, it would be better to address them using self-identified pronouns. For example, in the following sentence, you can see that each person is referred to using a different possessive pronoun.

The students described their experience with different academic projects: Mike talked about his essay, James talked about their poster presentation, and Sara talked about her dissertation paper.

Ensure Consistency Throughout the Text

Avoid switching back and forth between first-person pronouns (I, We, Our) and third-person pronouns (The writers, the students) in a single piece. It is vitally important to maintain consistency throughout the text.

For example,

The writers completed the work in due time, and our content quality is well above the standard expected.

We completed the work in due time, and our content quality is well above the standard expected.

The writers completed the work in due time, and the content quality is well above the standard expected.“

How to Use Demonstrative Pronouns (This, That, Those, These) in Academic Writing

Make sure it is clear who you are referring to when using demonstrative pronouns. Consider placing a descriptive word or phrase after the demonstrative pronouns to give more clarity to the sentence.

For example,

The political relationship between Israel and Arab states has continued to worsen over the last few decades, contrary to the expectations of enthusiasts in the regional political sphere. This shows that a lot more needs to be done to tackle this. The political relationship between Israel and Arab states has continued to worsen over the last few decades, contrary to the expectations of enthusiasts in the regional political sphere. This situation shows that a lot more needs to be done to tackle this issue.

Gendered Pronouns and the Singular “They”

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Gendered Pronouns and the Singular “They”

To refer to a man in the third person, we say “he.” To refer to a woman, we say “she.” But if we don’t want to specify the gender of someone in the third person, English comes up short.

This is because there is no singular gender neutral pronoun. In academic writing, this can be problematic, so what should you do if you want to avoid using gendered pronouns in a paper?

Why Are Gendered Pronouns a Problem?

If we’re discussing a specific person whose gender is known, using “he” or “she” isn’t an issue. For example, if writing about Napoleon, it would be reasonable to discuss “his” funny hat.

However, in academic writing we often refer to people in the abstract using non-gendered terms like “someone”. It’s difficult to know which pronouns to use with gender-neutral words like this, since both “he”/”his” and “she”/”her” imply a particular gender.

Traditionally, academic writing has used “he” and “his” far more in these situations (this linguistic bias is even reflected in the U.S. Constitution, which states than “All men are created equal…”). As such, it was common to see phrases like:

When someone makes a decision, he weighs up various possibilities.

But social changes mean that most people are now uncomfortable with excluding all non-males from academic discourse. So what are the alternatives?

“He or She”

One option is alternating between “he” and “she” in a document, or you can use “he or she”:

When someone makes a decision, he or she weighs up various possibilities.

However, this can make the phrasing of sentences seem awkward. Some style guides, such as APA style, also discourage alternating between “he” and “she.”

The Impersonal “One” or “You”

Another possibility is using the impersonal pronoun “one” in place of gendered pronouns:

When one makes a decision, one weighs up various possibilities.

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This is fairly common in British English, but in the U.S. it sounds pretty old-fashioned, so the second person “you” is favored instead:

When you make a decision, you weigh up various possibilities.

But this can sound informal or too conversational, as if you’re addressing the reader directly.

Rephrasing the Sentence

If none of the above are suitable, it might be a good idea to rephrase the sentence in a way that avoids using a gendered pronoun. For example, we could write:

When making a decision, it is necessary to weigh up various possibilities.

This is often the best choice as long as it doesn’t lead to sentences becoming too complicated.

The Singular “They”

Finally, an increasingly popular option is using the gender-neutral second-person pronoun “they” to refer to a single person of unknown gender. This avoids gendered language:

When someone makes a decision, they weigh up various possibilities.

However, some consider this informal or ungrammatical, since it involves using a plural verb (“weigh”) in combination with a singular subject (“someone”).

The key thing is therefore to check your style guide and pick what works best for you.

How to Effectively Use Pronouns in Academic Writing Trinka

Pronouns are usually called the understudies of English grammar as they play the role of stand-ins for nouns (that are then referred to as the antecedents of the pronouns). Pronouns can be singular (I, me, he, she, you, it) or plural (they, them, we, us). Nonetheless, their roles are limited to replacement for either the subject or the object of a sentence:

The girl spent the weekend sewing the girl’s skirt so that the girl would have enough time to make alterations to the skirt on Wednesday.

The above sentence showcases how awkward and repetitive writing can be without pronouns. When appropriately used, the sentence can be re-written as follows:

The girl spent the weekend sewing her skirt so that she would have enough time to make alterations to it on Wednesday.

The antecedents (nouns being substituted) are evidently matched to each pronoun: her (the girl’s), she (the girl), it (the skirt).

Important Cases

Regarding the personal pronouns, maintaining a clear match between pronouns and their antecedents becomes easier if you keep in mind that pronouns come in three cases:

Subjective – the doer (subject) of the action: I throw the ball.

– the doer (subject) of the action: throw the ball. Objective – the receiver (object) of the action: Throw the ball to me .

– the receiver (object) of the action: Throw the ball to . Possessive – shows ownership: My throw struck the referee out!

Rules of Pronoun Use

To avoid noun repetition and use pronouns efficiently, you must remember the different types of pronouns and the way they can be used in a sentence:

Personal pronouns represent people or things: I came to see her yesterday.

represent people or things: came to see yesterday. Demonstrative pronouns point out someone or something: This is his glove; that is your helmet.

point out someone or something: is his glove; is your helmet. Relative pronouns relate one part of a sentence to another: One country that I’d like to visit someday is Bolivia (that relates to country).

relate one part of a sentence to another: One country I’d like to visit someday is Bolivia (that relates to country). Reflexive pronouns (also called intensive pronouns) reflect back to someone or something else in the sentence: You must ask yourself what you did to fall into this sticky situation (yourself relates to you).

Interrogative pronouns ask a question (interrogate): What on earth were you thinking?

ask a question (interrogate): on earth were you thinking? Indefinite pronouns do not refer to a particular place or thing that has already been stated in a sentence. This can be puzzling because that thing may be very definite and can be singular or plural. For instance, someone/somebody and everyone/everybody.

Singular “They” and Gender-Neutral Pronouns

Changes in social perceptions can lead to changes in language and grammar, and perhaps nowhere has this been seen as conspicuously as with the use of pronouns. The following principles and examples illustrate some techniques that can help writers avoid the unnecessary and prejudiced use of gendered pronouns.

When a popular sports star joins Instagram, he or she gains millions of followers within days.

Instead, writers may substitute “he or she” with the singular “they”:

When a popular sports star joins Instagram, they gain millions of followers within days.

Revised, No Pronoun

A popular sports star who joins Instagram gains millions of followers within days.

A Simple Check

Learning all the rules of pronoun use can appear near impossible—so many types in so many cases! Nevertheless, checking the accurate use of a pronoun is relatively straightforward. First, read the sentence to yourself and trust your ear. An incorrect balance between pronoun and antecedent just won’t sound right:

Fidel Castro’s communist principles inexorably led to ideological differences between he and President Kennedy.

The ungrammatical “he” is a simple catch because the sentence doesn’t sound correct as written. When multiple antecedents are involved, you can check your pronoun use by substituting each antecedent with its original noun to check that you are using the right pronoun.

Besides, if you are looking for an AI-driven writing tool to enhance your writing, then check out Trinka, the world’s first language enhancement tool that is custom-built for academic and technical writing. It has several exclusive features to make your manuscript ready for the global audience.

www.trinka.ai

Using Academic Style and Tone in Writing

Click here to show Mini-lesson 1 Mini-lesson 1: Eliminating Personal Pronouns from Writing

Use of personal pronouns (I / my / our / us / etc) can make the tone of writing too subjective, and should be avoided. Tip 1: Eliminate personal pronouns. In some cases, these pronouns may simply be eliminated. Compare the following: Example 1: With personaI pronoun (‘I’) I believe modern technology should not replace traditional face-to-face classroom teaching. Without personal pronoun (‘I’) Modern technology should not replace traditional face-to-face classroom teaching. The second sentence above is less personal, more objective and more academic in tone. (It is also less wordy and more confident.) If your paper has your name on it, readers will know they are reading your thoughts and opinions, so writing “I think”, “I believe” or “in my opinion” is not necessary. Simply remove these expressions to make more objective, academic sentences. The second sentence above is less personal, more objective and more academic in tone. (It is also less wordy and more confident.) If your paper has your name on it, readers will know they are reading your thoughts and opinions, so writing “I think”, “I believe” or “in my opinion” is not necessary. Simply remove these expressions to make more objective, academic sentences. Tip 2: Eliminate pronouns and make minor adjustments. In other cases, minor adjustments may be needed. Compare the following: Example 2: With personaI pronoun (‘I’) In this paper, I will argue against the proposition that surrogate motherhood is an acceptable practice. Without personal pronoun (‘I’) This paper will argue against the proposition that surrogate motherhood is an acceptable practice. Here, the writer has simply deleted ‘I’’ and replaced it with ‘This paper’, which is better, but may still not be the best approach. A more academic way would be to use the passive voice, as follows: Example 3: Without personal pronoun (‘I’)

(with passive voice) It will be argued (in this paper/ below) that surrogate motherhood is an unacceptable practice. Tip 3: Use passive voice. The passive voice allows the action rather than the ‘doer’ to be emphasized, making the sentence less personal. In this case, the ‘doer’ is obviously the writer of the paper, so it can be de-emphasized or eliminated from the sentence, making the stance less direct and more academic.

Academic writers should not refer to what they think, but to what the evidence suggests. In the following, the writer inappropriately refers directly to what he / she thinks or feels: Example 4: Inappropriate direct reference

to the writer’s opinion /

feelings / thoughts From my understanding of the article, capital punishment may not be beneficial because it is inhumane. I feel that societies should provide a better solution to citizens than putting their criminals to death. My essay will demonstrate that capital punishment should be abolished and I will provide three supporting reasons. A better, more academic approach According to the article, capital punishment may not be beneficial because it is inhumane. It seems that societies should provide a better solution to citizens than putting their criminals to death. Below, it will be demonstrated that capital punishment should be abolished with three supporting reasons. Tip 4: Relate your writing to the evidence, not to your thinking. Writing is much more persuasive when it relates to evidence, which is why the words and phrases in the chart below on the left are seldom used in academic writing compared to those in the chart on the right:

Avoid these pronouns / phrases in academic writing I think… I feel… I believe… I am convinced that… I am sure that… It is my belief that…

Use these words / phrases

in academic writing instead The literature suggests (that)… The results indicate (that)… Considering the results, According to the figures, It is evident (that)… The research indicates / suggests (that)…

Compare the following:

My research suggests strong perceptions of the programme as delivering language improvement, friendship and increased world knowledge and I believe that it should be promoted more rigorously within the university. I am convinced that universities should consider participation in such schemes as a prerequisite for student exchange programmes, rather than relying wholly on criteria such as IELTS scores or other scholastic achievements.

The research suggests strong perceptions of the programme as delivering language improvement, friendship and increased world knowledge and the results indicate that it should be promoted more rigorously within the university. It is evident that universities may consider participation in such schemes as a prerequisite for student exchange programmes, rather than relying wholly on criteria such as IELTS scores or other scholastic achievements.

With personal pronoun (‘you’) If you lose your health, you may not get it back again. Without personal pronoun (‘you’) If people lose their health, they may not get it back again. Passive voice version If health is lost, it may not return.

Again, the first example inappropriately relates to what the writer thinks or feels rather than to his or her research findings. The second example is more objective and academic than the first as it discusses the writer’s research, not what he feels or thinks.

Using second-person pronouns such as ‘you’ or ‘your’ to address the reader is inappropriate and can make an essay read like an informal speech rather than a piece of academic writing. Although the words ‘people’, ‘they / their’ can be used to replace ‘you / your’, using passive voice, as in the example above, is often the best way to avoid using second-person as the ‘doer’ (you / people / they) can be omitted from the sentence and the action can emphasized instead. (It may also be less wordy!)

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