when your teacher says you can’t use first person pronouns in your writing

doctorghoti:

piesandfalcs:

piesandfalcs:

WAIT SHIT

image

(Exaggerated inhale)

Look, I know this was for jokes, but as a writing tutor, it’s time to shove advice down your throats. If you feel like you can’t use active voice just because 1st person pronouns are missing, it means you need to put emphasis on the topic you’re looking at rather than the idea that you are looking at the topic. Let’s take a look at some sentences.

1st person: “I argue that ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is a metaphor for feminism and mental health.”

No first person? Well then, that’s easy. Let’s focus on the real subject: the story you’re analyzing.

Fixed sentence: “’The Yellow Wallpaper’ is a metaphor for feminism and mental health.”

“But doc,” you whine, “that’s easy for literary analysis. What about persuasive papers that are directly my opinion?” Okay then, let’s try it.

1st person: “I vote we enhance gun restrictions in America.”

This is, admittedly, a more awkward sentence that with the quickest fix uses passive voice.

Easy fix: “Gun restrictions in America should be enhanced.”

No first person, but that’s when we get the passive voice problem. But you can make it active. 

Better fix: “America needs to enhance gun restrictions”

Or, if you wanna include the American populace like you did in the 1st person version, then 

”The American populace needs to vote to enhance gun restrictions in America.”

OR

”Voters must take action to enhance gun restrictions in America.”

Those are all bolder, and the way you write them can put emphasis on different ideas better than “I” can. One fix puts the pressure on the country/government, one encourages the population, one is a more forceful call to arms. Granted, this might not work for all writing (many scientific papers prefer passive voice to put emphasis on object rather than subject), but you don’t have to feel like you’re using passive all the time. Even if you slip into passive now and again, it’s not something to fear. Often times it’s just a matter of flipping your sentence around.

I vote we enhance gun restrictions in America.

Voters must take action to enhance gun restrictions in America.

Those sentences don’t mean the same at all, their semantic context is astoundingly different. The first expresses your personal desires, the second is a moral prescription for good behavior across an entire people.

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