Avoid Personal Pronouns

As a writer, you should seek to avoid using 1st and 2nd person pronouns (“personal pronouns”) in your writing. Here’s a brief primer on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person pronouns:

1st Person: I, We
When you write in first person, you’re talking about yourself:
I went to class.
My mom made me lunch today.
We went to the movies.

2nd Person: You
When you write in second person, you’re talking to the reader:
You would really enjoy this book.
Your mom made you lunch today.
You went to the movies. 

3rd Person: He, She, It, They
When you write in third person, you are writing about other people or characters without mentioning yourself:
He made a difficult decision.
The main character matured over the course of the novel.
Her mom made her lunch today.
Ralph and Jack created rival tribes.
Or, the plural of this last example: They created rival tribes.


In a formal analytical paper, personal pronouns (I, me, my, you, we, etc.) should not be used.  The focus should be on the analysis itself instead of on the person doing the analysis.  There is no need to say “I think that,” “I believe that,” or “in my opinion.”  Readers will know that the ideas you are presenting are your thoughts, beliefs, or opinions.  Simply delete these expressions from sentences, and you will be left with stronger sentences.

Weak: I think that in describing Juliet as angelic and making several celestial metaphors, Romeo elevates their love to heavenly. You can see that the power of their exalted love has increased because their love is now sacred.

Corrected: I think that in describing Juliet as angelic and making several celestial metaphors, Romeo elevates their love to heavenly. You can see that the power of their exalted love has increased because their love is now sacred.

Stronger: In describing Juliet as angelic and making several celestial metaphors, Romeo elevates their love to heavenly.  The power of their exalted love has increased because their love is now sacred.

Likewise, readers often mentally replace you with their name, which confuses the sentence.

Weak:  Juliet’s willingness to throw away her family and her life for Romeo makes you feel sorry for her.

Corrected: Juliet’s willingness to throw away her family and her life for Romeo makes you feel sorry for her. (Eliminate you and reword for clarity)

Stronger: Juliet’s willingness to throw away her family and her life for Romeo evokes pity.

****In almost every situation a simple rewording eliminates the unnecessary pronoun.

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