2.18.2009

You Get Rid of I and I Get Rid of You

Sometimes, we get confused on how we're going to use our pronouns. Often times, we mix them up. We begin with 'I'; towards the middle, we use 'we'. Then, in the end, 'we' becomes 'you'.

Learn to observe your subject. If your main subject is about your male friend, always refer to him as he. He will never become she, and it's impossible that he becomes us.

If you're writing an article about your personal experience, sometimes you tend to transfer your own emotions to another person. For example,

"Then it rained. I love the feeling of a raindrop trickle on my face. It makes you feel like you are touched by heaven."

In the above example, notice the use of "I" changed to "you" in the third sentence. Remember that this is about your personal experience. Don't transfer your emotion to someone else. Therefore, write instead "It made me feel like touched by the heavens."

If the article you are writing is reflective or introspective, something very personal and intimate about you, use "I".  If you are part of a group action, use "we". Do not separate yourself from the group as if you're not one of them. Avoid using "you" because you tend to command and excuse yourself from making the mistake. The use of "you" is authoritative.

To illustrate, consider the following sentences as part of an article.

"...What's the use of being called a community if you are not participating in any of the activities. You need to commit your presence because commitment is your key in building this community...."

The trouble with this kind of sentences is that it makes everyone at fault but the author. That's the reason why we should avoid using "you". To make the above sentences sound good, change them into general statements.

"...In order to be called a community, active participation and teamwork are necessary. Presence should be a commitment because it is the key to building this community...."

However, in a business correspondence, we sometimes should emphasize the "you" especially if we are asking or requesting a favor as in a sales letter or letter of apology. For example, if you're requesting an interview, write:

"May I request an interview at a time most convenient for you? Your consideration will be highly appreciated."

In the above example, we give emphasis to the person we are addressing to because we are giving him or her the importance. Though we should avoid using passive sentences, the one (second sentence) above is acceptable.

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