First-Person Perspective in an Academic Essay: When Is It Okay to Use?

Aug 25, 2020

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Academic writing is a subgenre of formal writing that involves essays, papers, and coursework. As a general rule, you should never use first-person pronouns (I, we, us, me) in your essays. You should express all your ideas in the third person when writing an academic essay. By doing so, you eliminate your opinions from the composition.

However, it is not completely taboo to use the first-person perspective when writing your essay. This article will show you situations where you can use the ‘me’ perspective in your essay.  

Instances where first-person pronouns are acceptable

1.Expressing personal opinions

Some professors instruct students to include their thoughts or interpretations at the end of each paragraph. You can also add a personal anecdote to your essay, in which case, you can use personal pronouns. 

2. Narrative essays

These are the only kinds of essays that allow the use of personal pronouns throughout the composition. Since you are recounting an event in which you played the central role, you can only narrate the events from your unique perspective.

3. Expressing a neutral perspective

Recently, instructors are becoming more lenient on the use of personal pronouns in academic writing. You can include first-person pronouns as long as you are only stating facts rather than your opinions.

Example: “In this paper, I analyze the relationship between post-colonialism and poverty in developing countries.”

You can use different alternatives to first-person pronouns in your essay. You can rewrite the sentence above as follows:

“This paper analyzes the relationship between post-colonialism and poverty in developing countries.”

Although both forms are technically correct, the latter sounds more formal than the previous one.

Ultimately, you should avoid using first-person pronouns in your academic essays as much as possible. 

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