Formal writing requires following patterns, sometimes uncommon for the everyday communication or fiction literature style. When composing an academic paper, one wants to rely on facts, check plagiarism, cite the sources, and sound objective and neutral. It is best to avoid personal opinions in essays to achieve the latter, making the work more generalized and persuasive. How can one omit first and second person pronouns so the text still sounds natural?

What are first and second-person pronouns

First-person pronouns I, we, me, us, my, mine, our, and ours present the story from the narrator’s perspective.

I chose the research topic because it sounded relevant to my favorite subject.

We conducted an experiment to confirm or disprove our theory.

Second-person pronouns, you and your, are used to address the reader.

This article will teach you how to avoid second-person pronouns in your writing.

Why first and second-person pronouns are not recommended for academic writing

“I,” “we,” “you,” and similar pronouns shift the perspective from the subject itself to the individual, emphasizing the author of the paper or the action described in the text. It is appropriate for fiction or everyday speech but doesn’t suit academic papers, where the focus should be on the research topic. Moreover, a personal point of view makes the information sound subjective and less trustworthy, while academic writing aims to make the opposite impression. Hence, one should choose the wording carefully and omit using a first-person perspective in formal texts.

Ways to replace first and second-person pronouns in formal paper

Here are some strategies to make the paper sound more formal and professional.

Focus on the writing

Shift the perspective from the narrator to the work.


I discovered that… – The research states that…

We believe that… – The experiments confirm that…

Address the facts

Instead of framing the information with personal opinion, double-check the facts and let them speak for themselves.


I chose the topic as I believe the polar bear extinction is a burning issue… – Global polar bear numbers are projected to decline by 30% by 2050.

You can also refer to the authoritative source: According to the World Wild Fund prognosis, the global polar bear numbers are projected to decline by 30% by 2050.

Change into passive voice

In fiction, marketing, and personal communication, the active voice sounds more energetic and expressive, while the neutrality of the passive voice suits formal writing.


I conducted a survey in 2023… – The survey was conducted in 2023…

We surveyed 1000 respondents and got the statistics… – From 1000 respondents surveyed in 2023, … 

Specify the source and the audience

Be specific and name the objects or people instead of using pronouns.


From the article, you will learn how… – The article tells the reader how…/The article describes how…

We describe the process in the paper published in 2018. – The paper published in 2018 gives the details on…/Dr. Jackson and Dr. Mark refer to the fact in the paper published in 2018… is your one-stop resource for all matters related to academic writing! Try our plagiarism and Chat GPT detector, stay mistakes-free, and get more professional writing tips in our blog. Join us now!