To replace ‘you’ in an Essay

You is the second person pronoun mostly used when writing an informal essay but when writing a formal piece where the writer is not familiar with the audience there arises a need to eliminate the use of the word ‘you’. The second person pronoun suggest that the reader is known hence a statement such ‘you as the student’ will not go with a lecturer reading the piece. Therefore not unless the writer knows who exactly will be reading the essay or is providing a general information, its best to avoid use of the pronoun. A passive voice in a formal essay makes it impersonal and objective.

Shifting focus on the idea suggested instead of what the writer thinks gives an essay that passive voice where the owner of the action is not of importance in the essay. The danger of second person pronouns is that they are specific in addressing the reader and this can cause confusion if the reader is not well known to the writer. Additionally these pronouns lack precision and sound more informal which is contrary to the nature of a formal essay.

In formal writing the word ‘you’ can be replaced with several words such as; one, the reader, them or the audience. This is possible to achieve without altering the structure of the sentence as well as the words used, for example, ‘when in a state of depression you can’ will be changed into ‘when in a state of depression one can’. Moving the position of the word though will alter the sentence, ‘when one is in a state of depression they can’. Notice there has been an additional word ‘they’. The decision lies with the writer to choose the words to use and where to place them in the sentence without losing the meaning.

The second and first person pronouns render a writing as personal and lack objective as well as functionality and may create the wrong impression. Replacing the second person pronouns allows the writer not to be repetitive as there are various words that can be used as alternative for the pronouns. Alternatively, the writer can eliminate use of pronouns and state the main information being presented. The pronoun in this sentence ‘you will be adversely affected by the drugs’ can be removed to read ‘drugs have adverse effects’.

Complement nouns or adjectives can also be used in place of the pronoun retaining the same meaning of the sentence, the writer can use words such as the reader or generalize a statement. Words such as ‘it is’ can be used in place of the pronoun if the statement is followed by another verb. Nouns and indefinite nouns such as someone or something best replace the ‘you’ as well as avoiding a command in a sentence and offering a suggestion instead.

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