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When English teachers talk about Point of View & Voice, they are referring to a special grouping of pronouns. Point of view is divided into three voices, or three groups of pronouns known as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person. The most skilled writer pays attention to point of view because she/he knows that it is a key element in writing style.

Point of View

Point of View
List of Pronouns
Typical Writing Occasions

1st Person

(Typically where students use their "Spoken Voice"; in most cases 1st person should be avoided)

I, me, mine, myself, we, us, ours, ourselves

-A Personal narrative
-It can be appropriate in a formal academic essay ONLY WHEN giving a specific personal experience as a form of argumentative evidence

2nd Person

(This is NEVER appropriate in the formal academic essay)

You, yours, yourself, yourselves

-A letter or email
-A written speech or public address
-Directions (pamphlets, etc.)

3rd Person

(Typically where students use their "Written Voice"; this IS appropriate)

he, she, it, him, her, his, hers, himself, herself, itself, they, them theirs, themselves

-Formal academic writing, including:
Argumentative, Summary/Response, Compare/Contrast, Expository Essays, Descriptive Narrative, Research

2ndPerson

Problem with Point of View: Beginner writers usually mix 1st, 2nd, & 3rd person into one paragraph.

Incorrect Example: It can be confusing to the reader if you shift the point of view in your writing (meaning starting in the 3rd person, moving to the 2nd person, then switching back to 3rd). 

Increasing one's [3rd person] workload is taxing on both your [2nd person] physical and mental health. Unless someone [3rd person] is in a physically-intensive profession, your [2nd person] body is wasting away while you [2nd person] are working.  Additionally, diet [3rd person] also suffers as you [2nd person] spend more time at work.  No longer do you [2nd person] have the time to prepare healthy meals at home or even worse, we [1st person] may not have time to eat at all.

Solution: Decide what type of writing project you're working on, and determine what point of view is most appropriate

Correct Examples: Below are samples of properly using point of view for various writing occasions

1st person, indicating a personal experience

I have found that increasing my workload is taxing on both my physical and mental health. Unless I am in a physically-intensive profession, my body is wasting away while I work.  Additionally, my diet has also suffered as I have spent more time at work.  No longer do I have the time to prepare healthy meals at home or even worse; I sometimes do not have time to eat at all.

2nd person, instructing the reader

Increasing your workload is taxing on both your physical and mental health. Unless you are in a physically-intensive profession, your body is wasting away while you are working.  Additionally, your diet also suffers as you spend more time at work.  No longer [do you] have the time to prepare healthy meals at home or even worse, you may not have time to eat at all.

3rd person, addressing a general situation

Increasing workloads tax both physical and mental health.  Unless a person is in a physically-intensive profession, a body will waste away with inactivity.  Additionally, the diet suffers as more time is spent at work because people do not have the time to prepare healthy meals or, even worse, may not have time to eat at all.

Using 3rd person in an essay, but including 1st person to give a personal example as evidence:

As mentioned above it can be appropriate to use 1st person in a formal academic essay ONLY WHEN giving a specific personal experience as a form of argumentative evidence.

Increasing workloads tax both physical and mental health.  Unless a person is in a physically-intensive profession, a body will waste away with inactivity. [Begin personal example in 1st person] For example, when I began working as an accountant, I experienced a noticeable decline in my physical health. I found that I could not engage in sporting activities as easily as I had done in the past. [Now that the example has concluded, return to 3rd person] In addition to a decline in physical health, the diet suffers as more time is spent at work because people do not have the time to prepare healthy meals or, even worse, may not have time to eat at all.

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