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First, Second, and Third Person in Writing

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Kathryn Glanzer

on 4 February 2015

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Transcript of First, Second, and Third Person in Writing

First, Second, and Third Person in Writing
First Person
"I" & "We"
(me, mine, us, ours)
This is when "I" is used to talk about yourself. "I" is always singular; "we" is plural.
"The first-person point of view is used primarily for autobiographical writing, such as a personal essay or a memoir. Academics and journalists usually avoid first person in their writing because doing so is believed to make the writing sound more objective; however, using an occasional “I” or “we” can be appropriate in formal papers and articles if a publication’s style allows it. " (Grammar Girl)
Second Person
(your, yours)
Second person is used when addressing the reader or addressee. The reader/addressee may be singular or plural.
Second person is not typically utilized in academic writing.
Second person writing is generally thought to come across as too direct or even accusatory.
Third Person
He, She, It, and They
(him, his, her, hers, its, them, theirs)

Third person is used when referring to any person, place, or thing other than the speaker or addressee.

Third person is the most common point of view to write from in traditional academic writing and in narrative writing.
Example Sentences:
In my opinion, the academic calendar should allow for MLK day to be observed through quiet reverence and no class.
I think that we should still have class on MLK day. He was a great man, but if we stopped classes for all notable people in history, we would never have class.
How can first person be taken out of these sentences?
As you may know, today we are celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. day.
According to MLK, you should not judge a person "by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. He was 35 years old.
Most formal writing is in the third person point of view.
Third person makes ideas sound less subjective since it removes direct reference to the writer. It also creates a more generalized statement.
For example:
"The students first need to determine guidelines" (3rd person) conveys a more formal, objective tone than "You first need to determine guidelines" (2nd person) and "I first needed to determine guidelines" (1st person).
Instructors, institutions, and publishers generally require writing in the third person to maintain a more formal tone.
Formal Tone
Changing a Sentence
Using indefinite terms instead of 'you':
Indefinite third person pronouns:
one, anyone, everyone, someone, no one, another, any, each, either, everybody, neither, nobody, other, anybody, somebody, everything, someone.
“One might be tempted to agree without all the facts.”
Indefinite third person nouns common to academic writing include:
the writer, the reader, individuals, students, a student, an instructor, people, a person, a women, a man, a child, researchers, scientists, writers, experts.

“In spite of the challenges involved, researchers still persist in their claims.”
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