2nd Person

The Banned 2nd Person

Although it’s technically not bad grammar, writing 2nd-person sentences that address the reader as “you” is banned from academic writing.
Incorrect: You are far more likely to be pulled over for speeding if you are a teenager.
Correct: Teenagers are far more likely to be pulled over for speeding.

Notice that the best possible solution is to substitute a class noun for as the subject to replace the banned “You.” You’re only more likely to be pulled over if you’re a teenager.

Fails for Grammar

Using you, your, or yours, in academic essays for this class is a “Fails For Grammar” (FFG) offense. Practice several techniques to eliminate the 2nd person from your work, and always do a page search for “you” before posting.

Why?

Academic essays are arguments, but they’re persuasive, not contentious. We don’t lecture our readers, preach to them, or accuse them of holding particular beliefs. Every use of the 2nd person creates a regrettable distance between Author and Reader. It doesn’t mean to, but it makes Readers “the others.”

A Demonstration

Neutral Claim:

We’ve never had a woman president.

Inclusive Claim keeps Author and Reader on the same team:

It’s important to remember that we’ve never had a woman president.

Avoid Exclusive Claims that separate the Author (who knows what needs to be remembered) from the Reader (who needs to be reminded what’s important):

What you need to remember is that we’ve never had a woman president.

Attentive, intelligent, informed Readers resent being told to remember the obvious.

Problems and Solutions

Cut and paste these sentences into a Reply field below this page.
Revise them to eliminate all 2nd person language.

  • CONSIDER REPHRASING IN THE PASSIVE TO AVOID PRONOUNS COMPLETELY.
  • THE PREFERRED PRONOUNS ARE WE, OUR, AND OURS.
  • DO NOT USE ONE AS YOUR PRONOUN.
  1. Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference. If you really think about it, yes it does. Ask any parent whose child goes to an expensive school.
  2. There are different types of injuries that happen in each sport.  Would you object if you knew that a surgery performed before any injury occurs could make an athlete stronger?
  3. Imagine your body being consumed by a drug. You would do anything to get this drug and you don’t worry about the consequences that come with it.
  4. By inviting Syrians in, you’re causing more problems than you’re solving.
  5. Does the idea of not actually having your money on-hand sound trivial?
  6. That little green piece of paper in your pocket holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce it, and yet you will work your whole life just to acquire more of those little green pieces of paper just so you can take them and stick them in a bank.
  7. So just remember the next time you read a bank statement or look at dollar bill that you’re holding an made up value that someone decided to make up. Without it, you might still be having to trade with goods like livestock and produce.
  8. I now understand that a dollar is only worth what you can receive in exchange for it.
  9. Being able to walk around with money without holding the money in your hand brings me back around to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, you don’t need to be in physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them.
  10. We hear people talk about the American Dream, which requires that you have enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. If you think about it deeply you will realize, that you receive these pieces of paper called money and base your whole life on them.
  11. Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. Your goal from the moment you start school is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make your life more fun and acceptable.

20 Responses to 2nd Person

  1. therealmoana says:

    1. Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference. If we really think about it, yes it does. Ask any parent whose child goes to an expensive school.
    2. There are different types of injuries that happen in each sport. Would we object if we knew that a surgery performed before any injury occurs could make an athlete stronger?
    3. Imagine our body being consumed by a drug. We would do anything to get this drug and you don’t worry about the consequences that come with it.
    4. By inviting Syrians in, we are causing more problems than you’re solving.
    5. Does the idea of not actually having our money on-hand sounds trivial?
    6. That little green piece of paper in our pocket holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce it, and yet we work our whole life just to acquire more of those little green pieces of paper just so we can take them and stick them in a bank.
    7. So just remember the next time we read a bank statement or look at dollar bill that we are holding an made up value that someone decided to make up. Without it, we might still be having to trade with goods like livestock and produce.
    8. I now understand that a dollar is only worth what we can receive in exchange for it.
    9. Being able to walk around with money without holding the money in our hand brings me back around to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, we don’t need to be in physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them.
    10. We hear people talk about the American Dream, which requires that we have enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. If we think about it deeply we will realize, that we receive these pieces of paper called money and base our whole life on them.
    11. Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. Our goal from the moment we start school is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make our lives more fun and acceptable.

    • davidbdale says:

      It’s surprising how often a simple substitution of WE for YOU works out well, Moana, But it doesn’t work in 3. When you tell a reader to Imagine something, you’re addressing the reader directly, forcing a YOU. Rephrase to eliminate that problem.

      Your 7 has the same problem.

      Your 4 still has a YOU’RE in it.

      Reply to my Reply with corrections.

  2. chippy1313 says:

    1. Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference. It does, just ask any parent whose child goes to an expensive school.
    2. There are different types of injuries that happen in each sport. Tommy Jon surgery can be performed before any injury occurs can make an athlete stronger.
    3.When a body is being consumed by a drug, a person would do anything to get this drug and wouldn’t worry about the consequences that come with it.
    4. By inviting Syrians in, it is causing more problems than it is solving.
    5. Does the idea of not actually having money on-hand sounds trivial?
    6. That little green piece of paper in a pocket holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce it, and yet working just to acquire more of those little green pieces of paper just to take them and stick them in a bank.
    7.The next time a bank statement is read or a dollar bill is held up is a made up value that someone decided to make up. Without it, goods like livestock and produce might still need to be traded.
    8. I now understand that a dollar is only worth what a person can receive in exchange for it.
    9. Being able to walk around with money without holding the money in hand brings me back around to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, physical possession of these Bitcoins are not needed to own them.
    10. When people talk about the American Dream, which requires that someone has enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. When it is thought about, these pieces of paper called money is the basis of life.
    11. Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. The goal from the moment school starts is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make life more fun and acceptable.

    • davidbdale says:

      I like your innovations, Chippy. You haven’t just substituted WE each time.

      1. Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference. It does, just ask any parent whose child goes to an expensive school.
      —Your second sentence needs a semicolon. By all means ask why if you’re uncertain.

      2. There are different types of injuries that happen in each sport. Tommy Jon surgery can be performed before any injury occurs can make an athlete stronger.
      —Messy syntax here in your second sentence. It has two “cans” in it. Read it and you’ll see the problem.

      3.When a body is being consumed by a drug, a person would do anything to get this drug and wouldn’t worry about the consequences that come with it.
      —Good. But a suggestion. If you’re choosing a substitute for YOU who is addicted to drugs, make the most specific substitution you can. Not person, but addict. Right?

      4. By inviting Syrians in, it is causing more problems than it is solving.
      —We’ll talk more about this particular syntax problem in the future. For now, ask yourself what “it” is. You use it twice to mean “inviting Syrians in.” But you also use “inviting Syrians in.” That’s three times you’ve said the same thing. For clarity and brevity, beware of those “By verbing” openings. Suggestion: Inviting Syrians in causes more problems than it solves. Right?

      5. Does the idea of not actually having money on-hand sound trivial?
      —Beautiful! Masterful!

      6. That little green piece of paper in a pocket holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce it, and yet working just to acquire more of those little green pieces of paper just to take them and stick them in a bank.
      —Syntax problem. You lost your verb when you swapped out the “we work” for “working.” This isn’t a sentence anymore. You COULD extend it by two more words to make a sentence ending with: “seems crazy.” See?

      7.The next time a bank statement is read or a dollar bill is held up is a made up value that someone decided to make up. Without it, goods like livestock and produce might still need to be traded.
      —Nah.

      8. I now understand that a dollar is only worth what a person can receive in exchange for it.
      —Sure.

      9. Being able to walk around with money without holding the money in hand brings me back around to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, physical possession of these Bitcoins are not needed to own them.
      —Small grammar problem. Possession IS NOT needed. (Your subject the singular “Possession,” not the plural “Bitcoins.”) Do you see that?

      10. When people talk about the American Dream, which requires that someone has enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. When it is thought about, these pieces of paper called money is the basis of life.
      —Both sentences are now flawed.

      11. Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. The goal from the moment school starts is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make life more fun and acceptable.
      —That works.

      Reply to the Reply with corrections if you want another round of review.

  3. starbucks732 says:

    1. Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference and it does. Ask any parent whose child goes to an expensive school.
    2. There are different types of injuries that happen in each sport. Would people object if they knew that a surgery performed before any injury occurs could make an athlete stronger?
    3. They body is being consumed by a drug and the person doesn’t worry about the consequences that come with it.
    4. By inviting Syrians in, t’s causing more problems than it’s solving.
    5. Does the idea of not actually having money on-hand sound trivial?
    6. That little green piece of paper in pockets holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce it, and yet people work their whole lives just to acquire more of those little green pieces of paper just to take them and stick them in a bank.
    7. A dollar bill has a made up value. However, without it, there might still be trade with goods like livestock and produce.
    8. I now understand that a dollar is only worth what is received in exchange for it.
    9. Not having to hold money in our hands brings me back around to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, it is not needed to be in physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them.
    10. We hear people talk about the American Dream, which requires having enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. We receive these pieces of paper called money and base our whole lives on them.
    11. Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. The goal from the moment school is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make life more fun and acceptable.

    • davidbdale says:

      Some good innovations here, Starbucks.

      3. They body is being consumed by a drug and the person doesn’t worry about the consequences that come with it.
      —What’s up with this one? “They body”? Be more specific whenever possible, Starbucks. “Persons” aren’t consumed by drugs. Addicts are.

      4. By inviting Syrians in, t’s causing more problems than it’s solving.
      —We’ll talk more about this particular syntax problem in the future. For now, ask yourself what “it” is. You use it twice to mean “inviting Syrians in.” But you also use “inviting Syrians in.” That’s three times you’ve said the same thing. For clarity and brevity, beware of those “By verbing” openings. Suggestion: Inviting Syrians in causes more problems than it solves. Right?

      6. That little green piece of paper in pockets holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce it
      —Most of this clause is good, but that one piece of paper can’t be in multiple pockets.

      7. A dollar bill has a made up value. However, without it, there might still be trade with goods like livestock and produce.
      —Very nice.

      8. I now understand that a dollar is only worth what is received in exchange for it.
      —Especially nice.

      9. Not having to hold money in our hands brings me back around to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, it is not needed to be in physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them.
      —You might have to put this sentence away and rewrite it without looking at the original. It’s hard to avoid the problems other authors create for us. That “it” is a mess.

      11. Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. The goal from the moment school is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make life more fun and acceptable.
      —You’ll have to read this one again to see what’s wrong in the area of “from the moment school is to join the game.”

      Reply to the Reply with revisions if you want another round of reactions.

  4. thecommonblackhawk says:

    1.Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference and it does. Ask any parent whose child goes to an expensive school.

    2.There are different types of injuries that happen in each sport but actually, it’s possible to have a surgery performed before any injury occurs that could make an athlete stronger.

    3.Imagine being consumed by a drug to the point of doing anything to get this drug without consideration of the consequences.

    4.By inviting Syrians in, more problems are caused than solved

    5.Does the idea of not actually having money on-hand sound trivial?

    6.That little green piece of paper everyone treasures holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce it. Yet society works their entire life just to acquire more of it just sto take them and stick them in a bank.

    7.Keep in mind that bank statements and dollar bills are valueless pieces of paper yet without it, society might still be trading with goods such as livestock and produce.

    8.A dollar is only worth what it can be exchanged for.

    9.Having money without physically holding the currency relates to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them is not required.

    10.People talk about the American Dream, which requires enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. If thought about deeply, it’s realized that these pieces of paper called money are the basis of life.

    11.Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. The goal of most, from the moment school is started, is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make life more fun and acceptable.

    • davidbdale says:

      These are very impressive, Blackhawk. You’ve done MUCH more than merely replace the pronouns. You’ve revised the sentences to eliminate the need for pronouns altogether, always the best plan.

      1.Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference and it does. Ask any parent whose child goes to an expensive school.
      —The only thing I’d change is the “and.”

      2.There are different types of injuries that happen in each sport but actually, it’s possible to have a surgery performed before any injury occurs that could make an athlete stronger.
      —I like the use of the passive “to have a surgery performed” here. For future reference and extra applause, consider eliminating the wordy “There are” openings from all your own sentences. They serve no purpose. (This one is someone else’s, I know.)

      3.Imagine being consumed by a drug to the point of doing anything to get this drug without consideration of the consequences.
      —Brilliant elimination of pronouns.

      4.By inviting Syrians in, more problems are caused than solved
      —Almost wonderful. You could and should streamline your sentences even further by eliminating the “By” openings. Can you do this without my instruction? It will require an active, not passive verb.

      5.Does the idea of not actually having money on-hand sound trivial?
      —Good.

      6.That little green piece of paper everyone treasures holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce it. Yet society works their entire life just to acquire more of it just to take them and stick them in a bank.
      —Your first sentence is terrific (but could be even better by eliminating the “it took.”) Your second makes an error mixing the singular “society works” with the plural “their entire” and back to the singular “life.” It also uses two “justs” AND mixes the singular “it” with the plural “them,” twice. Messy. Revise in a Reply below.

      7.Keep in mind that bank statements and dollar bills are valueless pieces of paper yet without it, society might still be trading with goods such as livestock and produce.
      —Again mixing singulars and plurals. Figure this one out for yourself.

      8.A dollar is only worth what it can be exchanged for.
      —Brilliant.

      9.Having money without physically holding the currency relates to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them is not required.
      —Has a messy part: “physical possession of these Bitcoins to own”

      10.People talk about the American Dream, which requires enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. If thought about deeply, it’s realized that these pieces of paper called money are the basis of life.
      —Nah. You can’t go passive with “If thought about deeply, it’s realized.” This one’s tricky. Do you like “deep thought reveals”?

      11.Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. The goal of most, from the moment school is started, is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make life more fun and acceptable.
      —Whenever the passive seems just too tormented, try eliminating the verb altogether. Verbs require actors as subjects, which sometimes forces awkward pronouns, but nouns are free. How about: “The goal of most, from the first day of school, is to join the game . . . .”

      I’m inclined to grade ambitious but not quite successful work higher than cautious mediocre work, Blackhawk. Don’t let the missteps dissuade you from being inventive. When you get these right, they’re the best I’ve seen so far.

      • thecommonblackhawk says:

        Yes Sir! I will work on the listed corrections! Plurals always seems to be my weak point.

      • thecommonblackhawk says:

        *1.Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference, it does. Ask any parent whose child goes to an expensive school.

        *2. Different types of injuries happen in every sport but actually, it’s possible to have a surgery performed before any injury occurs that could make an athlete stronger.

        3. Imagine being consumed by a drug to the point of doing anything to get this drug without consideration of the consequences.

        *4. Inviting Syrians in causes more problems than it solves.

        5.Does the idea of not actually having money on-hand sound trivial?

        ***6.That little green piece of paper everyone treasures holds no actual value other than the cost to produce it, yet society works to acquire more of it just to stick it in a bank.

        ***7.Keep in mind that bank statements and dollar bills are valueless pieces of paper yet without them, society might still be trading with goods such as livestock and produce.

        8.A dollar is only worth what it can be exchanged for.

        *9.Having money without physically holding the currency relates to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, Bitcoins lack the need of physical possession.

        ***10.People talk about the American Dream, which requires enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. Through deep thought, it’s realized that these pieces of paper called money are the basis of life.

        ***11.Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. The goal of most, from the time they start school, is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make life more fun and acceptable.

        Note: I put (*) next to everything with a minor change
        I put (***) next to all of the major changes
        Everything else wasn’t edited.

  5. dunkindonuts10 says:

    1.Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference and it does.
    2.There are different types of injuries that happen in each sport.  Knowing a surgery performed before any injury occurs could make an athlete stronger, would they do it?
    3.A body that is consumed by a drug does anything to get that drug, no matter the consequences.
    4.More problems are being caused than solved by inviting Syrians in.
    5.The idea of not actually having money on-hand sounds trivial.
    6. We work our whole life just to obtain more of little green pieces of paper just so we can take them to the bank.
    7.Bank statements and dollar bills are just a made up value someone decided to make up, but without it there would be no trade.
    8.A dollar is only worth what is received in return.
    9.Having the ability to walk around without holding the money, just like currency, shows how there is no physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them.
    10.When we hear people talk about the American Dream, it is based off of having enough pieces of paper to be financially stable, which we base our whole life on.
    11.Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. The goal from the moment school starts is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make life more fun and acceptable.

    • davidbdale says:

      This one’s a little squirrelly because of the number disagreement. Statements and bills (plural) are a value (singular) but without it (singular).
      7.Bank statements and dollar bills are just a made up value someone decided to make up, but without it there would be no trade.

      You probably mean “in return for it.”
      8.A dollar is only worth what is received in return.

      This one’s just hard to understand:
      9.Having the ability to walk around without holding the money, just like currency, shows how there is no physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them.

      Some very good work here, Donuts

  6. greeneggsandham234 says:

    1.Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference, and it does. Ask any parent whose child goes to an expensive school.

    2.There are different types of injuries that happen in each sport. Would people object if they knew that a surgery performed before any injury occurs could make an athlete stronger?

    3.Imagine a person being consumed by a drug. The person would do anything to get this drug and doesn’t worry about the consequences that come with it.

    4.By inviting Syrians in, we’re causing more problems than you’re solving.

    5.Does the idea of not actually having money on-hand sound trivial?

    6.That little green piece of paper in our pocket’s holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce it, and yet we will work our whole life just to acquire more of those little green pieces of paper just so we can take them and stick them in a bank.

    7.So just remember the next time someone reads bank statement or looks at dollar bill, that person is holding an made up value that society decided to make up. Without it, they might still be having to trade with goods like livestock and produce.

    8.I now understand that a dollar is only worth what we can receive in exchange for it.

    9.Being able to walk around with money without holding the money in our hand brings me back around to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, they didn’t need to be in physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them.

    10.People talk about the American Dream, which requires that someone has enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. If we think about it deeply we will realize, that we receive these pieces of paper called money and base our whole life on them.

    11.Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime.Our goal from the moment we start school is to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make our life more fun and acceptable.

    • davidbdale says:

      3. Imagine a person being consumed by a drug. The person would do anything to get this drug and doesn’t worry about the consequences that come with it.
      —The preferred substitute for a banned pronoun would be the most specific noun, in this case, addict, not person.

      4. By inviting Syrians in, we’re causing more problems than you’re solving.
      —Still contains a “you’re.”

      6. That little green piece of paper in our pocket’s holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce it, and yet we will work our whole life just to acquire more of those little green pieces of paper just so we can take them and stick them in a bank.
      —Watch out for those apostrophes. Pockets is the plural. Pocket’s is incorrect.

      7. So just remember the next time someone reads bank statement or looks at dollar bill, that person is holding an made up value that society decided to make up. Without it, they might still be having to trade with goods like livestock and produce.
      —The essential trouble with this example is that it doesn’t need a person at all.
      Bank statements and dollar bills represent made-up values, but without them, we might still be trading livestock and produce.

      9. Being able to walk around with money without holding the money in our hand brings me back around to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, they didn’t need to be in physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them.
      —Be careful with these “just like” comparisons. Yours says that stone money doesn’t need to physically own Bitcoins.
      Owning money without having to hold it in our hands is reminiscent of the huge stone coins of Yap because, like stone currency, Bitcoins don’t have to be physically owned.

      10. People talk about the American Dream, which requires that someone has enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. If we think about it deeply we will realize, that we receive these pieces of paper called money and base our whole life on them.
      —Well done.

  7. aeks123 says:

    1. Taxpayers wonder whether the amount spent on students makes a difference. It does. Ask any parent whose child goes to an expensive school.

    2.There are different types of injuries that happen in each sport. Would anyone object if they knew that a surgery performed before any injury occurs could make an athlete stronger?

    3. Imagine our bodies being consumed by a drug. We would do anything to get this drug and wouldn’t worry about the consequences that come with it.

    4. By inviting Syrians in, we’re causing more problems than we’re solving.

    5. Does the idea of not actually having money on-hand sound trivial?

    6. Those little green pieces of paper in our pockets holds no actual value other than the cost it took to produce them, and yet we are willing to work our whole lives to acquire more of them just so we can take them and stick them in a bank.

    7. When reading a bank statement or looking at a dollar bill, we must remember that we’re holding a made up value that someone decided to make up. Without it, we might still be having to trade with goods like livestock and produce.

    8. A dollar bill is only worth what can be received in exchange for it.

    9. Being able to walk around with money without having it on hand it brings me back around to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, you don’t need to be in physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them.

    10. We hear people talk about the American Dream, which requires us to have enough of these pieces of paper to be financially stable. We should come to realize that we receive these pieces of paper called money and base our whole lives on them.

    11. Money is an adroit concept and its pursuit lasts a lifetime. From the moment school is started, it should be a goal to join the game of making enough of these pieces of paper to make life more fun and acceptable.

    • davidbdale says:

      Very fine work all around, aeks.

      9. Being able to walk around with money without having it on hand it brings me back around to the idea of the stone because, just like stone currency, you don’t need to be in physical possession of these Bitcoins to own them.
      —Still contains a “you.” More importantly, it makes the odd claim that stone currency doesn’t need to possess Bitcoins.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s