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Can You Use Pronouns In Formal Writing | Avoiding \”I\” \U0026 Other Personal Pronouns 9105 Votes This 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.”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.1. Do not use first-person pronouns (“I,” “me,” “my,” “we,” “us,” etc.). Using these expressions in analytical and persuasive essays can make the writing wordy, can make the writer seem less confident of his or her ideas, and can give the essay an informal tone.

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Using Pronouns in Academic Writing | Debates and Guidelines

Pronouns are words that stand in for nouns. They can refer to specific people and things (e.g. I, you, it, him …

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Formal Writing Voice

1. Do not use first-person pronouns (“I,” “me,” “my,” “we,” “us,” etc.) …

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How to Effectively Use Pronouns in Academic Writing – Enago

Pronouns are simple to define but can be confusing to use. Here are some tips on how to use pronouns effectively in academic writing.

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Why am I not allowed to use personal pronouns (‘I’ and ‘we’) or …

It depends on what you mean exactly when you speak of formal writing. If you are referring to academic writing you must avo the temptation to use the I, …

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Can you use their in formal writing? – faq-ans.com

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, ” they ” as a common-gender pronoun is “perfectly well established, even in formal …

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Using Academic Style and Tone in Writing – CityU(ELSS)

Use of personal pronouns (I / my / our / us / etc) can make the tone of writing too subjective, and should be avoed. Tip 1: Eliminate personal pronouns.

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How to Replace I in Essays: Alternative 3rd Person Pronouns

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Writing academically: Personal pronouns – LibGuides

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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 you not use pronouns in formal writing?

1. Do not use first-person pronouns (“I,” “me,” “my,” “we,” “us,” etc.). Using these expressions in analytical and persuasive essays can make the writing wordy, can make the writer seem less confident of his or her ideas, and can give the essay an informal tone.

Can you use he and she in a formal essay?

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.

Can second person pronouns be used in formal writing?

Generally, it is best to avoid second person pronouns in scholarly writing because they remove the distance between the reader and the writer. Instead, try to use first or third person pronouns to enhance clarity. Most Walden programs and APA (2020) allow the appropriate use of first person.

How do you say I in formal 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.

What can I write instead of he she?

If necessary, use “one” instead of “he or she” or “his or her.” However, one should avoid this formulation as well, if possible, since the use of “one” can be awkward. Less desirable: A person who masters the basic rules of grammar, punctuation, and good writing is likely to impress his or her supervisors.

How do you avoid personal pronouns in formal writing?

Without personal pronoun (‘I’)

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.

What are the rules of formal writing?

Formal writing, or formal style, is the style used when an individual is writing a text for an audience that they do not know personally. Formal writing should be written in a third-person perspective. This style of writing uses proper grammar, punctuation, and the citation of valid sources.

Are gender neutral pronouns grammatically correct?

The use, in formal English, of he, him or his as a gender-neutral pronoun has traditionally been considered grammatically correct. For example, William Safire in his On Language column in The New York Times approved of the use of generic he, mentioning the mnemonic phrase “the male embraces the female”.

What pronouns can you use in a formal essay?

she/her/hers, they/them/their

In academic or college writing, most formal essays and research reports use third person pronouns and do not use “I” or “you.”

Is it OK to say we in an essay?

1st Person Plural Avoid using we or us in an essay. Saying ‘Let us now turn to the issue of manumission’ sounds pretentious. If you must guide the reader through your argument, use: ‘Turning (now) to the issue of manumission’.

Is it okay to use first-person in academic writing?

APA prefers that writers use the first person for clarity and self-reference. To promote clear communication, writers should use the first person, rather than passive voice or the third person, to indicate the action the writer is taking.

Business Document Writing: Avoiding the use of personal pronouns

Online Learning for Sports Management

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 . . . .”

English Composition 1

Formal Writing Voice

Have you ever attended an event in which “formal” attire is expected? You probably did not wear old jeans with holes in the knees, a stained tee shirt promoting your favorite beverage, and a pair of sandals. You probably chose more formal attire.

If you were giving an important speech to a group of people you do not know, would you use the same kind of language you use when talking with friends? Probably not. Recognizing your lack of familiarity with the audience, the importance of the occasion, your desire to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject, and the impression you would like to make, you would probably use a more formal voice for your speech than what you would use when talking with close friends.

For all of the essays you write for this course, you should use a formal writing voice. You should use the kind of language you would use when giving an important speech, not the kind of language you might use when talking with close friends. A formal tone helps establish the writer’s respect for the audience and suggests that the writer is serious about his or her topic. It is the kind of tone that educated people use when communicating with other educated people. Most academic writing uses a formal tone.

The following guidelines should help you maintain a formal writing voice in your essays.

1. Do not use first-person pronouns (“I,” “me,” “my,” “we,” “us,” etc.).

Using these expressions in analytical and persuasive essays can make the writing wordy, can make the writer seem less confident of his or her ideas, and can give the essay an informal tone. Use of first-person pronouns is unnecessary in the kinds of essays you are writing for the course. Readers will know that they are reading your thoughts, beliefs, or opinions, so you do not need to state, “I think that,” “I believe that,” or “in my opinion.” Simply delete these expressions from sentences, and you will be left with stronger sentences.

Example

I think that this character is confused.

This character is confused.

(The second sentence is less wordy, sounds more formal, and conveys a more confident tone.)

“One,” “the reader,” “readers,” “the viewer,” or something similar sometimes can be used effectively in place of first-person pronouns in formal papers, but be careful not to overuse these expressions. You want to sound formal, not awkward and stiff.

Example

I can sense the character’s confusion.

Readers can sense the character’s confusion.

2. Avoid addressing readers as “you.”

Addressing readers using second-person pronouns (“you, your”) can make an essay sound informal and can bring assumptions into an essay that are not true. A student once wrote in her essay, “If you wear a tube top, guys might think that you are easy.” I wondered why the student would think that I, a male, would wear a tube top. As with first-person pronouns, second-person pronouns can be replaced by words such as “one,” “the reader,” “readers,” and “the viewer.”

3. Avoid the use of contractions.

Contractions are shortened versions of words that use apostrophes in place of letters, such as “can’t,” “isn’t,” “she’s,” and “wouldn’t.” The more formal, non-contracted versions are “cannot,” “is not,” “she is,” and “would not.” You might be surprised by how much better a sentence can sound if non-contracted versions of the words replace the contractions.

Example

The character isn’t aware that he’s surrounded by people he can’t trust.

The character is not aware that he is surrounded by people he cannot trust.

Making your writing more formal by avoiding contractions is easy: just find the contractions and replace them with the non-contracted versions of the words.

4. Avoid colloquialism and slang expressions.

Colloquial diction is informal language used in everyday speech and includes such words as “guys,” “yeah,” “stuff,” “kind of,” “okay,” and “big deal.” Highly informal diction, such as “freak out” and “dissing,” falls into the category of “slang.” While slang words often are vivid and expressive, slang comes and goes quickly, another reason why slang should be avoided in formal writing. Both colloquialism and slang expressions convey an informal tone and should be avoided in formal writing.

Example

The guy was nailed for ripping off a liquor store.

The man was convicted of robbing a liquor store.

As you avoid informal language, be careful not to use words that suggests ideas that you may not intend. “The gentleman was convicted of robbing a liquor store” would probably leave readers wondering why the man who robbed the store is considered to be a “gentleman.” Likewise, “the lady was convicted of robbing a liquor store” would probably cause readers to wonder why a woman who robs a liquor store is considered to be a “lady.”

5. Avoid nonstandard diction.

Nonstandard diction refers to expressions that are not considered legitimate words according to the rules of Standard English usage. Nonstandard diction includes “ain’t,” “theirselves,” “hisself,” “anyways,” “alot” (the accepted version is “a lot”), and “alright” (the accepted version is “all right”). Most good dictionaries will identify such expressions with the word “Nonstandard.” Because nonstandard expressions generally are not regarded as legitimate words, I mark these expressions in essays as examples of “inaccurate word choice.”

6. Avoid abbreviated versions of words.

For example, instead of writing “photo,” “phone” and “TV,” write “photograph,” “telephone,” and “television.”

7. Avoid the overuse of short and simple sentences.

While the writer might use formal diction in such sentences, too many short and simple sentences can make an essay sound informal, as if the writer is not recognizing that the audience is capable of reading and understanding more complex and longer sentences. Short and simple sentences can be used effectively in formal writing, but heavy reliance on such sentences reflects poorly on the writer and gives the writing an informal tone.

Final Comments

Do not confuse formal diction with presumptuous diction (the kind of language that seems intended mainly to impress readers) or jargon (the kind of language only familiar to people within a specialized field, such as computer technicians).

You should not sound “artificial” as you use formal diction. Instead, consider that different situations require different uses of language and that educated people are able to adapt their use of language to a variety of writing and speaking situations. Educated people have several different writing and speaking voices, and one voice is no more “genuine” than another. Instead, the different voices reflect choices based on the writing or speaking situation. Through your word choice in essays, you can portray yourself as an intelligent person who is aware of your audience–a group of well-educated people whom you do not know. Imagine the kind of language that you might use in a job interview for an important job. With formal diction, you can express yourself clearly, accurately, and effectively, without relying on the kind of language that you might use in less formal situations.

Watch It!

Formal vs Informal Writing: What’s the Difference and When to Use Them from EzineArticles

Page copyright Randy Rambo, 2019.

Using Pronouns in Academic Writing | Debates and Guidelines

Pronouns are words that stand in for nouns. They can refer to specific people and things (e.g. I, you, it, him, their, this) or to non-specific people and things (e.g. anybody, one, some, each).

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.

Pronoun antecedents

The antecedent of a pronoun is the noun that it refers back to. The antecedent is usually mentioned in the text before the pronoun, but sometimes it comes just after it in a sentence.

Annie was late to class again because she missed her bus.

was late to class again because missed bus. As they debated the point, the students became increasingly animated.

When you use any type of pronoun, it’s important to ensure that the antecedent is clear and unambiguous. If there is any ambiguity, use the noun instead.

After the interview and the written test were complete, it was checked for incomplete answers.

Here it is unclear whether it refers to the interview, the test, or both.

After the interview and the written test were complete, the test was checked for incomplete answers.

First-person pronouns (I, we)

Personal pronouns that refer to the author or authors – I, we, my, etc. – are a topic of debate in academic writing. In some scientific disciplines, the first person has traditionally been avoided to maintain an objective, impersonal tone and keep the focus on the material rather than the author.

However, first-person pronouns are increasingly standard in many types of academic writing (though they are still more prevalent in some fields than others). Some style guides, such as APA, require the use of first person pronouns when referring to your own actions and opinions.

If in doubt about whether you should use the first person, check with your teacher or supervisor.

Using first-person pronouns in academic writing

Don’t overuse first-person pronouns in academic texts – make sure only to use them when it’s appropriate to do so, as in the following situations.

Note that the plural we/our should only be used if you are writing with coauthors. If you are writing the paper alone, use the singular I/my.

Use the first person… Examples ..to organize the text and guide the reader through your argument. In this paper, I will argue that…

will argue that… First, I outline the development of…

outline the development of… We conclude that… ..to report methods, procedures, and steps undertaken. We analyzed…

analyzed… I interviewed… ..to signal your position in a debate or contrast your claims with another source. Contrary to this theory, our findings suggest that…

findings suggest that… However, I contend that…

How to avoid first-person pronouns

If you have been told not to use first-person pronouns, there are three approaches you can take.

First-person sentence Revision Revised sentence We interviewed 12 participants. Use the third person The researchers interviewed 12 participants. I argue that the theory needs to be refined further. Use a different subject This paper argues that the theory needs to be refined further. I checked the dataset for missing data and outliers. Use the passive voice The dataset was checked for missing data and outliers.

Each of these approaches has different advantages and disadvantages. For example, the passive voice can sometimes result in dangling modifiers that make your text less clear. Therefore, if you are allowed to use first-person pronouns, retaining them is the best choice.

There are some types of academic writing where first-person pronouns are always acceptable – for example, in application documents such as a personal statement or statement of purpose.

Avoid the editorial we

Don’t use the first person plural to refer to people in general. This is sometimes called the “editorial we,” as it is commonly used in newspaper editorials to speak on behalf of the publication, or to express a widely shared opinion or experience.

However, in academic writing, it’s important to be precise about who you are referring to and to avoid broad generalizations. If possible, specify exactly which group of people you are talking about.

When we are given more freedom, we can work more effectively.

are given more freedom, can work more effectively. When employees are given more freedom, they can work more effectively.

As we age, we tend to become less concerned with others’ opinions of us .

age, tend to become less concerned with others’ opinions of . As people age, they tend to become less concerned with others’ opinions of them .

Using we in this way is acceptable if you want to emphasize the shared experiences of a particular group to which you belong. Just make sure it is clear exactly who you are referring to.

It is important to be aware of our own biases.

own biases. It is important for educators to be aware of our own biases.

What can proofreading do for your paper? Scribbr editors not only correct grammar and spelling mistakes, but also strengthen your writing by making sure your paper is free of vague language, redundant words and awkward phrasing. See editing example

Second-person pronouns (you)

Addressing the reader directly with the pronoun you is rarely appropriate in academic writing. To avoid it, rephrase or use the impersonal pronoun one.

In order to become a doctor, you must complete a rigorous education and years of training.

must complete a rigorous education and years of training. In order to become a doctor, one must complete a rigorous education and years of training.

As you can see in Figure 1.2, most respondents chose the second option.

can see in Figure 1.2, most respondents chose the second option. As can be seen in Figure 1.2, most respondents chose the second option.

Third-person pronouns (he, she, they)

Third-person singular pronouns in English are traditionally gendered (he/him, she/her), but gender-neutral language is considered increasingly important by many universities, publications, and style guides.

In older writing, you will often see masculine pronouns (he, him) and nouns (mankind, firemen) used as the universal or neutral. This is now considered outdated and biased.

Some writers combine masculine and feminine pronouns in constructions such as he or she; however, this often results in awkward or convoluted sentences, and it is not inclusive of all genders.

To refer to people of unknown or unspecified gender, the pronouns they/them/their are generally the most appropriate choice. They has long been used as a singular pronoun in informal contexts, and a growing number of style guides (including APA and MLA) now endorse this usage in academic writing.

As an alternative to the singular they, you can often simply pluralize the subject of the sentence, or revise the sentence structure so that no pronoun is necessary.

When a child turns 18, he gains various rights and responsibilities.

gains various rights and responsibilities. When a child turns 18, they gain various rights and responsibilities.

gain various rights and responsibilities. When children turn 18, they gain various rights and responsibilities.

turn 18, gain various rights and responsibilities. Children gain various rights and responsibilities at the age of 18.

Each examiner submitted his assessment of the project.

assessment of the project. Each examiner submitted their assessment of the project.

assessment of the project. The examiners submitted their assessments of the project.

submitted assessments of the project. The examiners’ assessments of the project were submitted.

As with all pronouns, when using the singular they, make sure it is clear who you are referring to. If the pronoun could result in confusion, rephrase your sentence to name the subject directly, or revise the sentence structure to clarify.

In the first sentence below, it is unclear if they refers to the teacher, the student, or both. In the revised version, the subject is named directly, and it is clear from context that their work also refers to the student.

If the teacher is not impressed with the student’s work, they will be disappointed.

will be disappointed. The student will be disappointed if the teacher is not impressed with their work.

When referring to a specific individual, you should always use that person’s self-identified pronouns. In the example below, different possessive pronouns are used for each of the individuals mentioned (she, they, and he, respectively).

Some participants described relationships with pets: Breanna talked about her dog, Andy talked about their cat, and Philip talked about his iguana.

Pronoun consistency

Whether or not you use first-person pronouns, it’s important to keep the point of view consistent throughout the text. Make sure not to shift between referring to yourself in the first person (I, we, my, our) and the third person (the author, the researchers).

The researchers interviewed 12 participants, and our results show that all were in agreement.

interviewed 12 participants, and results show that all were in agreement. We interviewed 12 participants, and our results show that all were in agreement.

interviewed 12 participants, and results show that all were in agreement. The researchers interviewed 12 participants, and the results show that all were in agreement.

Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those)

Demonstratives are words that single something out in a specific context: this, that, these and those.

In academic writing, it’s important to make sure it’s clear what you’re referring to when you use demonstratives. To clarify your meaning when you use words like this, you can add a word or short phrase after the demonstrative.

Using Pronouns in Academic Writing | Debates and Guidelines

Pronouns are words that stand in for nouns. They can refer to specific people and things (e.g. I, you, it, him, their, this) or to non-specific people and things (e.g. anybody, one, some, each).

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.

Pronoun antecedents

The antecedent of a pronoun is the noun that it refers back to. The antecedent is usually mentioned in the text before the pronoun, but sometimes it comes just after it in a sentence.

Annie was late to class again because she missed her bus.

was late to class again because missed bus. As they debated the point, the students became increasingly animated.

When you use any type of pronoun, it’s important to ensure that the antecedent is clear and unambiguous. If there is any ambiguity, use the noun instead.

After the interview and the written test were complete, it was checked for incomplete answers.

Here it is unclear whether it refers to the interview, the test, or both.

After the interview and the written test were complete, the test was checked for incomplete answers.

First-person pronouns (I, we)

Personal pronouns that refer to the author or authors – I, we, my, etc. – are a topic of debate in academic writing. In some scientific disciplines, the first person has traditionally been avoided to maintain an objective, impersonal tone and keep the focus on the material rather than the author.

However, first-person pronouns are increasingly standard in many types of academic writing (though they are still more prevalent in some fields than others). Some style guides, such as APA, require the use of first person pronouns when referring to your own actions and opinions.

If in doubt about whether you should use the first person, check with your teacher or supervisor.

Using first-person pronouns in academic writing

Don’t overuse first-person pronouns in academic texts – make sure only to use them when it’s appropriate to do so, as in the following situations.

Note that the plural we/our should only be used if you are writing with coauthors. If you are writing the paper alone, use the singular I/my.

Use the first person… Examples ..to organize the text and guide the reader through your argument. In this paper, I will argue that…

will argue that… First, I outline the development of…

outline the development of… We conclude that… ..to report methods, procedures, and steps undertaken. We analyzed…

analyzed… I interviewed… ..to signal your position in a debate or contrast your claims with another source. Contrary to this theory, our findings suggest that…

findings suggest that… However, I contend that…

How to avoid first-person pronouns

If you have been told not to use first-person pronouns, there are three approaches you can take.

First-person sentence Revision Revised sentence We interviewed 12 participants. Use the third person The researchers interviewed 12 participants. I argue that the theory needs to be refined further. Use a different subject This paper argues that the theory needs to be refined further. I checked the dataset for missing data and outliers. Use the passive voice The dataset was checked for missing data and outliers.

Each of these approaches has different advantages and disadvantages. For example, the passive voice can sometimes result in dangling modifiers that make your text less clear. Therefore, if you are allowed to use first-person pronouns, retaining them is the best choice.

There are some types of academic writing where first-person pronouns are always acceptable – for example, in application documents such as a personal statement or statement of purpose.

Avoid the editorial we

Don’t use the first person plural to refer to people in general. This is sometimes called the “editorial we,” as it is commonly used in newspaper editorials to speak on behalf of the publication, or to express a widely shared opinion or experience.

However, in academic writing, it’s important to be precise about who you are referring to and to avoid broad generalizations. If possible, specify exactly which group of people you are talking about.

When we are given more freedom, we can work more effectively.

are given more freedom, can work more effectively. When employees are given more freedom, they can work more effectively.

As we age, we tend to become less concerned with others’ opinions of us .

age, tend to become less concerned with others’ opinions of . As people age, they tend to become less concerned with others’ opinions of them .

Using we in this way is acceptable if you want to emphasize the shared experiences of a particular group to which you belong. Just make sure it is clear exactly who you are referring to.

It is important to be aware of our own biases.

own biases. It is important for educators to be aware of our own biases.

What can proofreading do for your paper? Scribbr editors not only correct grammar and spelling mistakes, but also strengthen your writing by making sure your paper is free of vague language, redundant words and awkward phrasing. See editing example

Second-person pronouns (you)

Addressing the reader directly with the pronoun you is rarely appropriate in academic writing. To avoid it, rephrase or use the impersonal pronoun one.

In order to become a doctor, you must complete a rigorous education and years of training.

must complete a rigorous education and years of training. In order to become a doctor, one must complete a rigorous education and years of training.

As you can see in Figure 1.2, most respondents chose the second option.

can see in Figure 1.2, most respondents chose the second option. As can be seen in Figure 1.2, most respondents chose the second option.

Third-person pronouns (he, she, they)

Third-person singular pronouns in English are traditionally gendered (he/him, she/her), but gender-neutral language is considered increasingly important by many universities, publications, and style guides.

In older writing, you will often see masculine pronouns (he, him) and nouns (mankind, firemen) used as the universal or neutral. This is now considered outdated and biased.

Some writers combine masculine and feminine pronouns in constructions such as he or she; however, this often results in awkward or convoluted sentences, and it is not inclusive of all genders.

To refer to people of unknown or unspecified gender, the pronouns they/them/their are generally the most appropriate choice. They has long been used as a singular pronoun in informal contexts, and a growing number of style guides (including APA and MLA) now endorse this usage in academic writing.

As an alternative to the singular they, you can often simply pluralize the subject of the sentence, or revise the sentence structure so that no pronoun is necessary.

When a child turns 18, he gains various rights and responsibilities.

gains various rights and responsibilities. When a child turns 18, they gain various rights and responsibilities.

gain various rights and responsibilities. When children turn 18, they gain various rights and responsibilities.

turn 18, gain various rights and responsibilities. Children gain various rights and responsibilities at the age of 18.

Each examiner submitted his assessment of the project.

assessment of the project. Each examiner submitted their assessment of the project.

assessment of the project. The examiners submitted their assessments of the project.

submitted assessments of the project. The examiners’ assessments of the project were submitted.

As with all pronouns, when using the singular they, make sure it is clear who you are referring to. If the pronoun could result in confusion, rephrase your sentence to name the subject directly, or revise the sentence structure to clarify.

In the first sentence below, it is unclear if they refers to the teacher, the student, or both. In the revised version, the subject is named directly, and it is clear from context that their work also refers to the student.

If the teacher is not impressed with the student’s work, they will be disappointed.

will be disappointed. The student will be disappointed if the teacher is not impressed with their work.

When referring to a specific individual, you should always use that person’s self-identified pronouns. In the example below, different possessive pronouns are used for each of the individuals mentioned (she, they, and he, respectively).

Some participants described relationships with pets: Breanna talked about her dog, Andy talked about their cat, and Philip talked about his iguana.

Pronoun consistency

Whether or not you use first-person pronouns, it’s important to keep the point of view consistent throughout the text. Make sure not to shift between referring to yourself in the first person (I, we, my, our) and the third person (the author, the researchers).

The researchers interviewed 12 participants, and our results show that all were in agreement.

interviewed 12 participants, and results show that all were in agreement. We interviewed 12 participants, and our results show that all were in agreement.

interviewed 12 participants, and results show that all were in agreement. The researchers interviewed 12 participants, and the results show that all were in agreement.

Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those)

Demonstratives are words that single something out in a specific context: this, that, these and those.

In academic writing, it’s important to make sure it’s clear what you’re referring to when you use demonstratives. To clarify your meaning when you use words like this, you can add a word or short phrase after the demonstrative.

English Composition 1

Formal Writing Voice

Have you ever attended an event in which “formal” attire is expected? You probably did not wear old jeans with holes in the knees, a stained tee shirt promoting your favorite beverage, and a pair of sandals. You probably chose more formal attire.

If you were giving an important speech to a group of people you do not know, would you use the same kind of language you use when talking with friends? Probably not. Recognizing your lack of familiarity with the audience, the importance of the occasion, your desire to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject, and the impression you would like to make, you would probably use a more formal voice for your speech than what you would use when talking with close friends.

For all of the essays you write for this course, you should use a formal writing voice. You should use the kind of language you would use when giving an important speech, not the kind of language you might use when talking with close friends. A formal tone helps establish the writer’s respect for the audience and suggests that the writer is serious about his or her topic. It is the kind of tone that educated people use when communicating with other educated people. Most academic writing uses a formal tone.

The following guidelines should help you maintain a formal writing voice in your essays.

1. Do not use first-person pronouns (“I,” “me,” “my,” “we,” “us,” etc.).

Using these expressions in analytical and persuasive essays can make the writing wordy, can make the writer seem less confident of his or her ideas, and can give the essay an informal tone. Use of first-person pronouns is unnecessary in the kinds of essays you are writing for the course. Readers will know that they are reading your thoughts, beliefs, or opinions, so you do not need to state, “I think that,” “I believe that,” or “in my opinion.” Simply delete these expressions from sentences, and you will be left with stronger sentences.

Example

I think that this character is confused.

This character is confused.

(The second sentence is less wordy, sounds more formal, and conveys a more confident tone.)

“One,” “the reader,” “readers,” “the viewer,” or something similar sometimes can be used effectively in place of first-person pronouns in formal papers, but be careful not to overuse these expressions. You want to sound formal, not awkward and stiff.

Example

I can sense the character’s confusion.

Readers can sense the character’s confusion.

2. Avoid addressing readers as “you.”

Addressing readers using second-person pronouns (“you, your”) can make an essay sound informal and can bring assumptions into an essay that are not true. A student once wrote in her essay, “If you wear a tube top, guys might think that you are easy.” I wondered why the student would think that I, a male, would wear a tube top. As with first-person pronouns, second-person pronouns can be replaced by words such as “one,” “the reader,” “readers,” and “the viewer.”

3. Avoid the use of contractions.

Contractions are shortened versions of words that use apostrophes in place of letters, such as “can’t,” “isn’t,” “she’s,” and “wouldn’t.” The more formal, non-contracted versions are “cannot,” “is not,” “she is,” and “would not.” You might be surprised by how much better a sentence can sound if non-contracted versions of the words replace the contractions.

Example

The character isn’t aware that he’s surrounded by people he can’t trust.

The character is not aware that he is surrounded by people he cannot trust.

Making your writing more formal by avoiding contractions is easy: just find the contractions and replace them with the non-contracted versions of the words.

4. Avoid colloquialism and slang expressions.

Colloquial diction is informal language used in everyday speech and includes such words as “guys,” “yeah,” “stuff,” “kind of,” “okay,” and “big deal.” Highly informal diction, such as “freak out” and “dissing,” falls into the category of “slang.” While slang words often are vivid and expressive, slang comes and goes quickly, another reason why slang should be avoided in formal writing. Both colloquialism and slang expressions convey an informal tone and should be avoided in formal writing.

Example

The guy was nailed for ripping off a liquor store.

The man was convicted of robbing a liquor store.

As you avoid informal language, be careful not to use words that suggests ideas that you may not intend. “The gentleman was convicted of robbing a liquor store” would probably leave readers wondering why the man who robbed the store is considered to be a “gentleman.” Likewise, “the lady was convicted of robbing a liquor store” would probably cause readers to wonder why a woman who robs a liquor store is considered to be a “lady.”

5. Avoid nonstandard diction.

Nonstandard diction refers to expressions that are not considered legitimate words according to the rules of Standard English usage. Nonstandard diction includes “ain’t,” “theirselves,” “hisself,” “anyways,” “alot” (the accepted version is “a lot”), and “alright” (the accepted version is “all right”). Most good dictionaries will identify such expressions with the word “Nonstandard.” Because nonstandard expressions generally are not regarded as legitimate words, I mark these expressions in essays as examples of “inaccurate word choice.”

6. Avoid abbreviated versions of words.

For example, instead of writing “photo,” “phone” and “TV,” write “photograph,” “telephone,” and “television.”

7. Avoid the overuse of short and simple sentences.

While the writer might use formal diction in such sentences, too many short and simple sentences can make an essay sound informal, as if the writer is not recognizing that the audience is capable of reading and understanding more complex and longer sentences. Short and simple sentences can be used effectively in formal writing, but heavy reliance on such sentences reflects poorly on the writer and gives the writing an informal tone.

Final Comments

Do not confuse formal diction with presumptuous diction (the kind of language that seems intended mainly to impress readers) or jargon (the kind of language only familiar to people within a specialized field, such as computer technicians).

You should not sound “artificial” as you use formal diction. Instead, consider that different situations require different uses of language and that educated people are able to adapt their use of language to a variety of writing and speaking situations. Educated people have several different writing and speaking voices, and one voice is no more “genuine” than another. Instead, the different voices reflect choices based on the writing or speaking situation. Through your word choice in essays, you can portray yourself as an intelligent person who is aware of your audience–a group of well-educated people whom you do not know. Imagine the kind of language that you might use in a job interview for an important job. With formal diction, you can express yourself clearly, accurately, and effectively, without relying on the kind of language that you might use in less formal situations.

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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.

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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.

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!)

How to Replace I in Essays: Alternative 3rd Person Pronouns

Learning how to write an essay without using ‘I’, ‘We’ or ‘You’, and other personal languages can be challenging for students. The best writing skills recommend not to use such pronouns. In this guide, we explore how to replace ‘I’, ‘We’, or ‘You’ in an essay and the methods to avoid them.

For those of us who have been able to overcome this, you will agree that there was a time when you experienced a challenge when finding alternatives to clauses such as “I will argue” or “I think”.

The good thing is that there are several methods of communicating your point, and writing an essay without using ‘I’ or related personal language,.

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Why avoid using Pronouns in formal writing

Before we identify the methods of communicating without using personal language like “I”, it is best to know why we should avoid such language while writing essays.

The most important reason for avoiding such language is because it is not suitable in formal writing such as essays. Appropriate professional English should not include any form of personal pronouns or language.

The second and equally important reason to avoid using personal language while writing an essay is to sound impersonal, functional, and objective.

In formal English, personal pronouns conflict with the idea of being impersonal, functional, and objective because they make redundant references to the writer and other people.

Personal pronouns will make an essay seem to contain only the perspectives of the writer and others they have deliberately selected. Again, they will make the work appear subjective.

Another reason to avoid personal language while coming up with an essay is to avoid sounding as if you have an urgent need to impress the reader through wording.

Personal pronouns like “you” and “I” tend to suggest something important that is away from what the writing is all about.

By continually using “I”, “we”, or “you”, you are taking the reader’s attention from the essay to other personal issues. The essay becomes all about the writer.

That being said, let’s explore how to replace “I” in an essay.

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Ways of Avoiding Pronouns “I”, “You” and “We” in an Essay

You can replace the pronouns ‘I’, ‘You’, and ‘We’ by replacing them with acceptable wording, applying passive voice instead of pronouns, Using a third-person perspective, adopting an objective language, and including strong verbs and adjectives.

In our other guide, we explained the best practices to avoid using ‘you’ in essay writing, and use academically sound words. Let us explore each of these strategies in detail.

1. Replacing it with an acceptable wording

This is a very good strategy for replacing “I” in an essay. The problem is that it is often difficult to find the right word to replace the personal pronoun. Though this is the case “I” has some alternatives.

For example, if the verb that follows it revolves around writing and research such as “…will present” or “…have described”, it is best to replace “I” with text-referencing nouns such as “the essay.”

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.

While this is sometimes acceptable, it is often advised to have no words here by using passive verbs or their equivalents.

A wording that may also be used but rarely suitable is “the researcher”. This alternative can only be used when your actions as a writer are completely detached from the writing.

2. Using passive voice instead of pronouns

Another way to replace “I” and other personal pronouns in an essay is to use passive voice. This is achieved by transforming an active verb passive.

Though this is the case, the strategy is often difficult and it may create sentence structures that are not acceptable in formal writing and language.

The sentences in which “I” can be successfully changed using this strategy is when an active verb describing an object is transformed into its passive form.

3. Using a Third-Person Perspective

This is a very important and applicable strategy when replacing “I” in an essay. This is where you avoid using first-person and second-person perspectives.

When referring to the subject matter, refer directly to them using the third person. For example, if you were to write “I think regular exercise is good for mind and body”, you can replace it with “Regular exercise is good for mind and body”.

4. Use of objective language

Objective language is lost when a person uses informal expressions like colloquialisms, slang, contractions, and clichés. It is the reason why we discourage the use of contractions in essay writing so that you can keep things formal.

While informal language can be applicable in casual writing and speeches, it is not acceptable when writing essays. This is because you will be tempted to use a first-person perspective to convey your message.

5. Being specific and using strong verbs and adjectives

In most cases, essays that have been written using a lot of personal pronouns tend to be imprecise. When you want to avoid using “I” in your essay, try to be exact and straight to the point.

Personal pronouns tend to convey a subjective message and it is up to the writer to explain their perspectives through writing.

Here, a writer will use a lot of “I think…” or “I believe…” to express their opinion. By doing so, the writer will end up wasting a lot of time explaining a concept.

Instead of doing that, it is best to look for appropriate verbs and adjectives to explain the points. Also, use objective language. Refer to the suggestions given by credible evidence instead of basing your arguments on what you think.

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Words to use instead of personal pronouns like “You” and “I”

As noted, it is important to avoid using personal pronouns such as “You” and “I” when writing an essay.

By eliminating them or finding alternatives to them, your essay will be formal and objective. You can decide to eliminate them in a sentence.

For example, you could be having a sentence like “I think the author makes a valid point concerning capitalism.”

In this example, you can eliminate the personal language and write “The author makes a valid point concerning capitalism”.

The second sentence goes straight to the point and is objective.

Other words to use instead of personal pronouns like “You” and “I” can be created when personal judgment words are avoided.

Instead, it is best to replace those words with those that refer to the evidence.

Examples of Ways to Replace personal pronouns

Below are examples of how personal judgment words can be replaced by words referring to the evidence.

I feel – In light of the evidence From I think – According to the findings I agree – It is evident from the data that I am convinced – Considering the results You can see that – From the results, it is evident that

Using the third-person or “it” constructions can be used to replace personal pronouns like “You” and “I”. Such words also help to reduce the word count of your essay and make it short and precise.

For example, if you are writing “I conclude that”, replace those words with “it could be concluded that”. Here, “it” constructions are helping replace personal pronouns to make the sentence more objective and precise.

To be more specific, words to replace personal pronouns like “I” include “one”, the viewer”, “the author”, “the reader”, “readers”, or something similar.

However, avoid overusing those words because your essay will seem stiff and awkward. For example, if you write “I can perceive the plot’s confusion”, you can replace “I” by writing “Readers can perceive the plot’s confusion”.

Words that can be used instead of personal pronouns like “You” include “one”, “the viewer”, the reader”, “readers”, or any other similar phrases. It is similar to words that replace first-person pronouns.

For example, if you write “you can see that the poet’s tone is serious and urgent”, you can replace “You” by writing “readers/one can see that the poet’s tone is serious and urgent”.

Words to use instead of “My” in an essay

Since “My” demonstrates the possessiveness of something, in this case, the contents or thoughts within an essay, it makes the writing subjective. According to experts, writing should take an objective language. To do this, it is important to replace it.

You can replace the word “My” with “the”. For example, if you write “My final thoughts concerning the issue are”, you can write “The final thoughts concerning the issues are”.

In this case, the article “The” makes the sentence formal and objective.

Another method is to eliminate the word “My” from the sentence to make it more objective and straight to the point.

In the same example above, if you write “My final thoughts concerning the issue are”, you can write “Final thoughts concerning the issue are”.

The major difference here is that the word “my” in the first example makes it subjective and eliminating it from the sentence makes it sound formal and objective.

Final Advice

Therefore, when writing an essay, it is important to avoid personal pronouns like “You”, “I” and “My.” Not all papers use third-person language. Different types of essays are formatted differently, a 5-paragraph essay is different from a 4-page paper, but all use third-person tones.

This is because an essay should be written in formal language and using personal pronouns makes it appear and sound informal. Therefore, writing an essay without using ‘I’ is good.

Formal language makes your essay sound objective and precise. However, do not remove the first person language when writing personal experiences in an essay or a paper. This is because it is acceptable and formal that way.

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