How to Use Pronouns Effectively While Writing Research Papers?

Usage of Pronouns in an Article

  • Smooth: For the smooth flow of writing, pronouns are a necessary tool. Any article, book, or academic paper needs pronouns. If pronouns are replaced by nouns everywhere in a piece of writing, its readability would decrease, making it clumsy for the reader. However, the correct usage of pronouns is also required for the proper understanding of a subject.
  • Simple to Read: In academic writing, it is important to use the accurate pronoun with the correct noun in the correct place of the sentence. If the pronouns make an article complicated instead of simple to read, they have not been used effectively.
  • Singular/Plural, Person: When the pronoun that substitutes a noun agrees with the number and person of that noun, the writing becomes more meaningful. Here, the number implies whether the noun is singular or plural, and person implies whether the noun is in the first, second, or third person.
  • Gender-Specific: Gender-specific pronouns bring clarity to the writing. If it is a feminine noun, the pronoun should be ‘she’, and for a masculine noun, it should be ‘he’. If the gender is not specified, both ‘he’ and ‘she’ should be used. In the case of plural nouns, ‘they’ should be used.
  • Exceptions: Terms like ‘everyone’ and ‘everybody’ seem to be plural, but they carry singular pronouns. Singular pronouns are used for terms like ‘anybody’, ‘anyone’, ‘nobody’, ‘each’, and ‘someone’. These pronouns are also needed in academic writing.

Which Pronoun Should be Used Where?

  • Personal Pronoun: If the author is writing from the first-person singular or plural point of view, then pronouns like ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘mine’, ‘my’, ‘we’, ‘our’, ‘ours’, and ‘us’ can be used. Academic writing considers these as personal pronouns. They make the author’s point of view and the results of the research immodest and opinionated. These pronouns should be avoided in academic writing as they understate the research findings. Authors must remember that their research and results should the focus, not themselves.
  • First Person Plural Pronoun: Though sometimes ‘I’ can be used in the abstract, introduction, discussion, and conclusion sections, it should be avoided. It is advisable to use ‘we’ instead.
  • Second Person Pronoun: The use of pronouns such as ‘you’, ‘your’, and ‘yours’ is also not appropriate in academic writing. They can be used to give instructions. It is better to use impersonal pronouns instead.
  • Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Publications and study guides demand the writing to be gender-neutral which is why, either ‘s/he’ or ‘they’ is used.
  • Demonstrative Pronoun: While using demonstrative pronouns such as this, that, these, or those, it should be clear who is being referred to.

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