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Why First Person is Important in Writing

by Tom Bailey

Kate McKinney Maddalena can easily solve this problem. In her article, “I Why First Person Is Important in Writing”, the author discusses when it is necessary to use the first person, and where this may interfere with the author. She shows us situations where it is necessary to say “I” and where it may seem superfluous. The first thing that needs to be said is that the presence of “I-less” discussions helps us to be quite objective, and it assists to concentrate on the material. The first person takes an irreplaceable place in research writing. It is also necessary to add that the place where we put a personal pronoun plays an important role in comprehending the thing we meant. In this case, Kate McKinney Maddalena constituted an outline, where she described different situations. Moreover, the topic uncovered here is a great example of a quality essay.

Let us start by considering the reasons why should not we abuse the personal pronoun. The first reason that the author outlines is “objectivity and integrity”. The majority of teachers want students to research and not to build their paper on their own experience. Some situations that occurred during the author's communication do not prove any theory. In science writing, we should use passive voice to reduce “we” and “I”. The student should not use personal pronouns in describing the generally agreed facts. At the same time, we can use our perspective in the description. For example, the student should not say: “The water in the sea is blue,” however it is quite normal to say: “From my position standing on the mainland surface at this time of the day, I see the water in the sea as blue”.

Another good thing serving for the usage of the personal pronoun is “clarifying who’s saying what”, - says McKinney Maddalena. In a large number of works, the student should summarize someone’s research or work. In this case, there are two reasons to use a personal pronoun. The first is to separate students’ thoughts from the theses of the cited author. The second is that the student’s interpretations are not always perfect. In this case, it is enough to add something like “We believe this data indicates…” and there will be no mistake at all.

One more reason for using the personal pronoun is the “ownership, intellectual involvement, and exigency”, as Kate McKinney Maddalena outlines. She says that it is important to express own opinions in cases when it is really necessary. For example, when the student opens some new facet in the research, something that the author or teacher has missed. Teachers, as a rule, highly appreciate students with the so-called “critical thinking”. The usage of a personal pronoun helps students to emphasize their own research and contribution. The author also emphasizes, that the “I-less mode” sometimes is tricky. When the student needs just to make a summary of an article, the everywhere usage of the personal pronoun is just redundant. This is why the author called the usage of “I” and “we” a “rhetorical sophistication”.

In the further part of the discussion of the arguments advocating for and against usage the personal pronouns Kate McKinney Maddalena gives the example of works of different students, explaining whether the “I-ness” mode is appropriate, and where it is superfluous. In summary, she gives all the reasons for and against the usage of personal pronouns. It is very clear from these observations that we should use the “I-ness” discussion very carefully. However, what about our early-school essays?

As far as I remember, teachers always emphasized that it is important to give voice to our own thoughts. It was in priority. Kate McKinney Maddalena described us situations where it is important to use personal pronouns, and where it is inappropriate. Despite her recommendations not to use the personal pronoun in the research papers, I think that even in lab reports sometimes we need to show the personal position view, in terms of carrying out the experiment. I consider that writing without “I’s” studies to concentrate on the research without paying attention to his or her opinion. On the contrary, using “I” in essays forces us to express our minds. To my mind, it is important to study how to express our thoughts during the writing process. I think that the researches of the author are very interesting and cope with almost all types of work.

 The unspoken rules of using personal pronouns help the authors very much whether they should or not express their point of view. These rules help students to grasp a sense in which cases they make a mistake, and how to avoid these mistakes. I should note here that I hope students will express their own opinion, not forgetting about it in the fear of making a mistake. The other side of the coin is, to my mind, is that Kate McKinney Maddalena simplified the student’s orientation in the process of writing of different types of work, as well as teachers’ work on mistakes checking.