Point of View (or Person)

Point of View is the perspective from which writing occurs.

In formal, expository writing, avoid using 1st (I, us, we, my, myself, ours) and 2nd person (you, your, or any variations thereof - yourself, yours, etc.). Always utilize 3rd person,singular or plural: he, she, it, they, them, their (student, students, pencil, pencils, Constitution, democratic institutions, etc.).  
  • 1st person [us, our, we, ourselves, mine, etc.] is the person doing the speaking/writing 
    • EX: I write novels. My most famous one....)
  • 2nd person [you, your, etc.] is the person/thing being spoken/written to 
    • EX: (You) Stand up. (You) Sit down. You put your right foot first. (You) Put your book down.
  • 3rd person [he, she, it, them, hers, student, students, book, books, stem cell research, etc. ] is the person/thing being spoken/written of or about
    • EX: Gun control is a controversial issue. Government employees are covered for anthrax exposure.
IMPORTANT: The automatic subject of all imperative sentences (commands) is the 'understood' you. A sentence that commands would have 'you' as the subject: "Take the trash out," "Open the door," "Begin your test," or "Don't rely on the password." Because these all are commands, they are using the 2nd person 'you', which as mentioned above, should be avoided. You don't 'see' it, but it's there. 2nd person should be strictly used for giving directions; that is, a process: how to make a kite, how to study for an exam, how to build a campfire, steps for builidng a web page, etc.

About Reaction (or Response) papers:

Sometimes, you are asked to agree or disagree with an author (otherwise called a response, or reaction paper). You can do so without using first person point of view (I) and thus sound more compositionally mature.

Rather than write that you agree with an author, instead use a transition to indicate your feelings. Your audience will know how you feel.

Avoid "I strongly agree with Watson," or "I agree with Watson," but "Indeed, Watson is accurate in arguing that race should not be an issue in relationships." 

What if you disagree with an author? Don't write, "I disagree with Watson." Instead, try a transition like "On the contrary, Watson's argument is flawed." 

Which sounds smoother to you?

Here are a couple more examples:


Daly's argument is that we are an overly litigious society. Indeed, far too many people are prone to frivolous lawsuits. (in that example, can you tell how I feel, what I believe? Can you tell if I agree with Daly? Did I have to write "I agree" for you to know whether I agree with Daly? Did I have to use 'I'?)
Daly's argument is that we are an overly litigious society. On the contrary: without lawsuits, all members of society are vulnerable to the unethical behavior of others. (in that case, can you see how I feel, what I believe? Can you tell if I disagree with Daly? Did I have to write "I disagree" for you to know that I disagree with him?)

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