Mastering the Mechanics: Pronoun Tips #1 and #2
Last updated 5/31/2016
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“Mastering the Mechanics:
Pronoun Tips #1 & #2: Pronouns to Avoid”
Slide changes to a mostly gray slide with the heading: Pronouns
Below the text reads:
Replace a noun
The teacher gave the rest to the students
She gave it to them
Tip: Avoid the second person in scholarly writing:
Rather than this: I am going to tell you about childhood obesity
Try this: This paper is about childhood obesity
Additional resource: https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/grammar/partsofspeech
Audio: There are a few specific tips, a few common errors when it comes to pronouns that I very often see as a writing instructor. Now, the first tip is that you will always want to avoid the second person in your scholarly writing. Now, the second person are the words "you", "your", "yours", "yourself", any word like that. It's just a little too casual for scholarly writing. So instead of saying something like, "I'm going to tell you about childhood obesity,” that just sounds very conversational. It sounds like I'm sitting down to lunch with you and I'm going to tell you about childhood obesity. In scholarly writing you want to be a little more – a little more formal than that. So it would be better to remove the second person and say something like, "This paper is about childhood obesity." So that is tip number one, avoid the second person.
Visual: Screen changes to a new slide titled: More Pronoun Tips
Below the heading is the following text:
- Avoid the general we, us, and our
Rather than this: We all need to focus on patient satisfaction
Try this: Nurses all need to focus on patient satisfaction
- Avoid ambiguous pronouns.
Rather than this: When the customer and the manager spoke on the phone, he was angry.
Try this: The customer was angry when he spoke on the phone with the manager
- Maintain noun-pronoun agreement
Wrong: A manager should always listen to their customers
Correct: Managers should always listen to their customers
Wrong: The family needs to work on their anger issues
Correct: The family members need to work on their anger issues.
Audio: A few more pronoun tips on this page. In addition to avoiding the words "you", "your", "yours" and so on, you want to avoid the words "we", "us", and "our" except in a few specific circumstances. Per APA, you want to avoid using the words "we", "us", and "our" to refer to people in general or a specific group of people. In fact the only time it's acceptable to use these words in an APA paper is in one of these team papers that students are sometimes assigned to. So if you and some of your classmates are assigned to a team and you are writing about your experience as a team, then it's appropriate to use the first person, you can say, you know, "We delegated responsibilities and we set our deadline to have our research done by next week." In that case it is appropriate to use the words "we," "us," and "our," but otherwise, it's a good idea to avoid doing so.
So in this example sentence here, instead of saying "We all need to focus on patient satisfaction," as a reader I’m thinking, well, who needs to focus on this? I don't have patients as a writing instructor, so I just don't know who you're referring to. It would be stronger to use a noun instead: "Nurses need to focus on patient satisfaction." Okay, so that is pronoun tip number two.
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