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How first and third work well together

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

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:

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. Be clear about who the first-person “we” is.
  4. If you use we, keep the company prominent by using its name as an adjective, like this: “We offer Syntax Training programs online, too.”
  5. 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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