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Video Transcripts

APA Formatting & Style: Pronouns (Point of View)

Last updated 5/6/2020

 

Visual: Screen opens to a background image with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The title Walden University Writing Center and tagline “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears on the screen. The screen changes to show the series title “Formatting & Style” and the video title “Pronouns.”

Audio: Guitar music

 

Visual: Slide changes to one with the following: Pronouns

Avoid referring to yourself in the third person

  • The researcher will analyze the lesson plan.
    • I will analyze the lesson plan.
  • The author reviewed the case study.
    • I reviewed the case study.

Audio: APA provides some guidance on what pronouns are appropriate for writers to use in certain situations, since it often depends on context. The first guideline is that you should avoid referring to yourself in third person. This includes referring to yourself as “the researcher” or “the author”, like in these examples. Instead, APA recommends using first person, in this case “I”, when you’re talking about your own research, actions you’ve taken, or experiences you’ve had. Writers should use this first person instead of the third person, which helps avoid ambiguity.

 

Visual: Slide changes to one with the following: Pronouns

Avoid “I think” or “I believe” statements

  • I think that education is a right everyone should have.
    • Education is a right everyone should have.
  • I believe that businesses that treat employees fairly will succeed.
    • Businesses that treat employees fairly will succeed.

Audio: However, because we use first person to refer to our own actions or experiences, does not mean we should use “I” whenever we’d like to in our academic writing. Generally, in academic writing the idea is that statements you make are beliefs or thoughts you have, so you should also avoid “I think” or “I believe” statements. The notations that you think or believe something is implied, since you’re the author of that statement, so the phrases can be eliminated altogether. Sometimes students will include “I think” or “I believe” statements because it’s become a habit in their writing. Our recommendation is to allow yourself to do that as you write, but then come back through your paper and simply delete those statements to eliminate them. As you can see with our examples here, by eliminating the “I think” and “I believe” statements altogether, we’re left with clear, declarative sentences.

 

Visual: Slide changes to one with the following: Pronouns

Avoid referring to the reader with “we” or “you”

  • We need to ensure students have strong reading skills.
    • Parents need to ensure students have strong reading skills.
    • Teachers need to ensure students have strong reading skills.

Audio: APA also provides guidance on how to use the third person, specifically the pronoun “we.” APA doesn’t recommend writers use the editorial “we,” which is when individuals refer themselves in the third person with “we.” This editorial “we” can be used in other writing styles, but APA recommends avoiding it to refer to yourself because it’s not necessary. Additionally, APA recommends avoiding using “we” when you’re talking about groups of people you are discussing. In this example, “we” is used to refer to a group that needs to ensure students have strong reading skills, but as readers, we don’t know who “we” includes. The use of the pronoun isn’t very precise, and it could include any number of people. Instead, replacing “we” with the specific group you are referring to will help your writing be more specific and clear. In this case, the writer might have meant “parents” or “teachers.” Both options change the meaning of the sentence, and so by naming the specific group, the writer would make this idea clearer.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Pronouns

Use singular “they” when appropriate:

  • When a person uses “they” as their pronoun
  • When a person’s gender is unknown or irrelevant
  • They turned in the questionnaire.
  • Jamie shared their experiences as a genderqueer person.

Audio: The final guidance APA provides for pronouns is around the use of singular “they.” The singular use of the pronoun “they” was once discouraged in academic writing, but it now should be used to be inclusive of all gender identities. You should use the singular “they” when the person you are talking about uses “they” as their pronoun, as well as when a person’s gender is either unknown or irrelevant. In these cases, using “they,” “them,” and “theirs” is appropriate, as shown in these examples.

It may take some practice to become proficient at using these guidelines for pronouns, but with practice, you’ll soon be able to easily navigate which pronoun to use when!  

 

Visual: The screen changes to an ending slide with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The email address writingsupport@waldenu.edu appears on the screen.