Pronouns are used in both ordinary speech and formal writing. First and second person pronouns are most commonly used in everyday life, while third person pronouns are more appropriate in an academic setting. Just as a writer should avoid switching between past/present/future tense without purpose, so too must they avoid switching between first, second and third person. If an author makes the mistake of writing in first or second person, this can easily be remedied by reworking sentences or changing words. Pronouns are an important way for the author to establish a point of view.

First Person


  • To present personal stories or points of view

  • To share thoughts, emotions and perspectives

Pronouns: I, me, my, mine, myself, we, us, our, ourselves

Second Person


  • To direct, address or instruct

  • To create a connection between author and reader

Pronouns: you, your, yourself

Third Person


  • To be formal, objective or unbiased

  • To present an omniscient (all knowing) perspective

Pronouns: he, him, himself, she, her, herself, they, their, them, themself, themselves, it, its, itself

Tips and Tricks

  1. Eliminate unnecessary pronouns.

Example: “I think Dallas University is a great school” could easily become the third person sentence “Dallas University is a great school.”

  1. Attribute ideas or opinions to outside authorities.

Example: “I believe a global language is necessary” becomes a much more objective claim when written as “There is strong evidence to suggest that a global language is necessary.”

  1. Convert Second Person pronouns to professions or group titles.

Example: “You should make sure your students all have pencils before handing out tests” can become “A teacher should make sure their students all have pencils before handing out tests.”

  1. Make personal stories hypothetical.

Example: “When I was little, I was bitten by a dog, and now I am afraid of them” can become “Many children are bitten by dogs at a young age, leading to adult fears of these household pets.”