In formal, expository writing,
using 1st (I, us, we, my, myself, ours) and 2nd person (you, your,
or any variations thereof - yourself,
yours, etc.). Always
3rd person,singular or plural: he, she, it, they, them,
their (student, students, pencil, pencils, Constitution, democratic institutions,
IMPORTANT: The automatic subject
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."
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.
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
About Reaction (or Response)
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
Here are a couple more examples:
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'?)
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?)