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Q: Academic writing standards often censure the use of first- and second-person pronouns such as I, me, my, you, and your. Do you think this is appropriate? Why or why not?
A: Although first and second person pronouns are not 100% forbidden in academic writing, it is true that students are encouraged to avoid them. [ Why? The main reasons are what they do to tone of voice and how the second person pronoun can miss the targeted audience. Both first and second person pronouns have an informal tone of voice. With first person pronouns, the writer is referring to herself
directly ("I did this" "my reason is"). And while an informal tone of voice isn't in any way "wrong" or "illegal," it often doesn't match the writing situation in an high school or college class. Most students are not being asked to write personal narratives; they're being asked to write arguments, often researched arguments, in which personal stories are subordinate to actual researched evidence. Of course, if the student decides it would be effective to include a personal story as well, then first person pronouns are appropriate for that section of the paper. Second person pronouns are even more problematic. If a writer uses them, the writer is now speaking directly to the person reading the paper. Again, that's fine in a letter or email, but it usually doesn't match the writing assignment scenario in a classroom. The student isn't writing directly to a teacher ("when you look at the stars...."); the student is writing for a broader audience that includes the teacher, the other students, and any other reader who is interested in the topic. So an academic writer who uses "you" is often mistaken about who his audience is. ]
Expert answered|emdjay23|Points 461|
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Asked 2/23/2013 11:35:16 AM
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