Who Am I? Who Are You? Who Are They?

Posted: December 6th, 2013, 5:10 pm   By: brittany.corners

Remember being told “never use I in your essays!” Well, that rule still applies in several professional writing arenas; this is one of them. One trick to keeping track of “who” you are “talking to” in your articles and paragraphs is easy: read it to yourself as you type. Another option is to proofread it o-u-t-l-o-u-d before your submit it. These are old tricks. However, when you double check your writing, you must keep track of “who” you are addressing and stick with that “person.” If you feel you are vacillating between speaking directly to your reader and about your reader, you have to make some changes.

Here are some examples:

Allowed: You are sure to love these items; there is one you need in this amazing collection. Reward yourself with one today.

Not allowed: Anyone can use these items; there is one you need in this lovely collection. (anyone = 3rd person, you = 2nd person)

Not allowed: One can purchase this fan here. You have a large variety from which to choose.

Allowed: You can purchase this fan here, and you have a large variety from which to choose.

So, decide if you are talking “to” your reader directly. If so, use “you” throughout the essay. If you are speaking of “a reader” who probably should desire the product you are selling, use the third person.