Personal Pronouns in Academic Essays: Can You Use Personal Pronouns in Academic Essays?

Using personal pronouns in academic essays is still contentious because some institutions allow them while others discourage them. You should, therefore, get clarification from your lecturer before you start writing your paper.  It is also wise for you to know when to/not to use personal pronouns in your essay.

The article below does exactly that. Read on for further details.

Can You Use Personal Pronouns in Academic Essays?

Personal pronouns in academic essays are discouraged because they may detract you from focusing on your argument and the objective you are trying to convey. You ultimately offer opinions that may lack supporting reasoning and evidence to craft your scholarly piece.

Since writing your essay without using personal pronouns can be cumbersome, I have outlined ways in which you can eliminate them in your paper.

Also see: Can you use contractions in an essay? 

How to Eliminate Personal Pronouns from Your Academic Essay

1. Remove Them.

In some scenarios, you can remove the pronouns.

Example: I believe solar power is more sustainable than hydroelectricity.

Solution: Solar power is more sustainable than hydroelectricity.

The above solution is more objective because there is no personal stance.

2. Eliminate and Make Adjustments

Example: In this paper, I will argue that solar power is cheaper than hydroelectricity.

Solution: This paper will ascertain that solar power is cheaper than hydroelectricity.

3. Base Your Writing on Evidence, Not Personal Opinions

When you use evidence, your paper becomes more persuasive. Use the following words;

  • It is evident (that)…,
  • Considering the results,
  • The research suggests (that)..,
  • According to the figures,
  • The results indicate…,

4. Use Passive Voice

Passive voice allows you to emphasize the action instead of the doer. The sentence becomes less personal.

Why the Use of Personal Pronouns in Academic Essays Is Discouraged

The use of personal pronouns in academic essays is discouraged because they undermine the trustworthiness and credibility of the author. Any claim made in the paper should have supporting evidence. It may include logic and research. When you use personal pronouns and fail to cite your sources, your lecturer may conclude that the claims made are your beliefs instead of established reasoning.

Academic essays should be objective. Avoid being subjective or emotional because you may lose persuasiveness, and your paper will ultimately rely on your emotions. Remember that your aim should be to raise new ideas for analysis or to research more on existing information. The style should, therefore, be formal and impersonal because you do not want your lecturer to assume you are biased. Only deal with facts.

Note: Restrain From Addressing the Reader as You

If you use second-person pronouns like you and your, you address the reader directly. Consequently, the paper reads like an informal speech instead of scholarly writing. The reader becomes the essay subject rather than striving to explain your points using credible evidence.

Use passive voice to eliminate second-person pronouns. An additional advantage is that the paper becomes less wordy.

How Do You Refer To A Person In An Essay?

If you base your argument on one scholar, begin by writing their first and last name. Use the last name for the rest of the article. You can also use his/her and he/she if you know their gender or their/they if you are not sure about the gender.

On the other hand, if you are using work from two or more scholars, it is best to indicate their names when citing the different sources to let the reader know where you sourced the evidence. In essence, if you are not using a name, use the third-person pronoun approach.

Can You Use The Third Person In An Essay?

Yes, you can use the third person in an essay. In fact, most essays (research papers, persuasion, and exposition essays) require you to write in the third person, where you refer to researchers from academic sources as evidence. It helps you support your argument.

Using the third person helps you refer to the person you are talking about in a sentence. Refrain from taking sides and influencing the feelings of the reader. Use pronouns such as him, hers, she, he, herself, himself, themselves, it, their, or use a name.

Most lecturers advise students to use the third-person stance because it makes the paper less personal, thus enhancing objectivity. Consequently, you achieve credibility and eliminate bias because you will focus more on facts and evidence and dwell less on opinions.

Tips for Utilizing the Third-Person Approach

Focus on the text and mind less about yourself and the reader. Be neutral and present your ideas and research as if you are observing.

Use the present tense. For example, instead of “This essay analyzed,” write “This essay analyzes.”

Avoid incorporating your opinions, especially if you are passionate about the topic.

If you only know how to use the first or second person, practice often on how to avoid the approach by writing more using third-person pronouns.