Can you switch between first (I or we) and third person (he, she or they) in the same paragraph? Writing coach Lynn Gaertner-Johnston says you can, as long as you allow clarity to be your guide. Here are five tips to help you avoid confusion:
- To avoid a cumbersome shift from one person to another, use first person and third person together at the beginning, like this: “At Acme [third person], we [first person] do A and B. We can also help with C and D.”
- Avoid a first- and third-person jumble. If you follow third person with first person, continue with first person to the end of the paragraph.
- Be clear about who the first-person “we” is.
- If you use we, keep the company prominent by using its name as an adjective, like this: “We offer Syntax Training programs online, too.”
- Whether you use first person or third person or both, be sure to appeal to the all-important second person: you, the reader. Example: “You can take Syntax Training classes online, too.”
— Adapted from “Do First and Third Person Mix Well?,” Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Business Writing Blog.
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