How to write an essay about a person 4


How to write an essay about a person

How to write an essay about a person

The dreaded “I” word. How can one letter be so malignant when it comes to academic writing?


It’s likely that many of your teachers and professors have drilled it into your head that using first-person writing in your essays will immediately result in another unrelenting letter of the alphabet: “F.”


As a curious student, you may be thinking that surely there must be some instances where using first-person writing is okay.


If that’s you, you’re asking all the right questions. This post will cover when it’s okay to use first-person writing in your essays and when it’s better to stick with third-person.


First-person writing involves using singular first-person pronouns such as I, me, my, mine, etc. You could also use plural first-person pronouns such as we, our, us, ours, etc.


For instance, this adorable kitten is talking primarily in first-person perspective (the “you” and “your” there is second-person perspective, which could be another blog topic entirely).


First-person writing can get really boring really fast. For example, I’ll write a short narrative about my day so far.


I opened my emails.


I ate breakfast.


The neighbor’s dog annoyed me.


I pet my cats and later pushed them off the couch.


I thought about eating popcorn for breakfast…but didn’t.


My roommate and I could not decide whether or not to hang the art in our apartment.


While I might think I am fascinating, you have probably stopped reading the list by now. You’re done hearing about me, me, me, right?


Well, think of that as part of the reason your teachers might boycott first-person pronouns. If your professor wants you to write an essay about President Obama, he or she probably doesn’t want to hear about what you (or the President for that matter) ate for breakfast.


When Is First-person Writing Ineffective or Unwarranted?

Let’s face it. Everyone likes to write about themselves. The problem with first-person perspective in academic writing is that it can sound


When your instructor wants you to write a 15-page research paper about the problems in the Middle East, exclusively talking about your opinions on the matter is going to be an issue.


Instead, you should look for unbiased sources, search through the material, and use that in your research paper to make it more credible. Yes, that might sound like a lot more work, but it will pay off when you get your grade.


Sometimes, it can be difficult to take out first-person writing altogether. If you have the impulse to write in first-person perspective a lot, that’s okay! It’s still a great way to get your thoughts out on paper.


For example, pretend that this is one of my main points for a poem analysis I am writing:


Using words such as “melancholy” and “frustration,” the poem made me feel sad.


In this case, the first-person “me” would not be appropriate because the focus needs to be on the poem itself and not on what I think about it. But, because I wrote this, I now understand what the poem is doing.


I can rewrite this idea in my second draft using third-person perspective:


Using words such as “melancholy” and “frustration,” the poem employs a mournful tone to demonstrate the difficulty that comes with the loss of a loved one.


Most times, you’re the only one who will see your first draft, so go ahead and throw first-person perspective in if it helps you get your thoughts on paper. Make sure, however, that you go through and take it out in your revision.


Make or Break Your Academic Career: When Is First-person Writing Okay?

Okay, I was being dramatic with that header. Really, if you mess up on choosing whether to use first-person writing or not, you don’t have to forever hang your head in shame. You might get a slap on the wrist (in the form of some red marks on your paper), but it’s not the end of the world.


However, it never hurts to educate yourself on the dos and don’ts of first-person writing.


While essays about you require first-person, other types of essays (e.g., research papers) usually should not include first-person perspective.


Here are some examples of types of essays that, by their nature, require first-person writing:



  • Personal narrative essays

  • Memoir/reflective essays

  • Personal statements (e.g., college application essays)