This means that the words you, your, you're, yours, and yourself
are off limits.
Using the word you is not grammatically incorrect, of course, but it is often stylistically
incorrect because it may inappropriately limit or define the reading audience. In
addition, using the word you makes a writing sample too informal for the college arena.
So how do we avoid using second person
point of view?
It depends on the situation, but these
guidelines may help:
When giving directions or commands, try
simply removing the word you, and then check to see whether the sentence still reads sensibly.
Poor: First, you make sure the electricity is turned off at
the breaker box.
Better: First, make sure the electricity is turned off at
the breaker box. (This is that understood you
that grammar teachers talk about. Unfortunately, many of us never really understood
it at all.
When giving directions or commands,
sometimes it helps to apply a label to the person performing the action.
Poor: First, you arrange your supplies: canvas, paint,
Better: First, artists should arrange their
supplies: canvas, paint, and brushes.
Sometimes we use you when we really mean me or they.
Poor: After you eat a spinach salad, you should always
brush your teeth.
Better: After I eat a spinach salad, I always brush my
teeth. (This is still in first person, however.)
Even Better: Because spinach has a tendency to get caught
in between the teeth, it is always a good idea to brush after eating it. (This is
written in third person point of view.)
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