How to avoid using 2 nd person
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How to Avoid Using 2 nd Person:. A How-to for Your How-to. The Obvious Kind. You should do your homework so that your teacher won’t yell at you . (I won’t yell at you…) Solution #1: Students should do their homework so that their teachers won’t yell at them.

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How to avoid using 2 nd person

How to Avoid Using 2nd Person:

A How-to for Your How-to


The obvious kind

The Obvious Kind

  • You should do your homework so that your teacher won’t yell at you. (I won’t yell at you…)

  • Solution #1: Students should do their homework so that their teachers won’t yell at them.

  • Solution#2: A student should do his homework so that his teacher won’t yell at him.

  • What’s the difference between these two solutions?


What s agreement

What’s agreement?

  • A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in gender and number.

  • Antecedent is a fancy label for the word that a pronoun replaces or refers to. Speak Spanish? Think antes, which means “before.” The antecedent comes before the pronoun.


How to avoid using 2 nd person

  • So, a singular antecedent needs a singular pronoun:

    A student  his  him (or her)

  • And a plural antecedent needs a plural pronoun:

    Students  their  them


Confusing antecedents

Confusing Antecedents

  • Words that include “one” or “body” are treated as singular even though they seem to refer to a whole group of people—that’s the English language for you!

  • Write these in the “Singular Antecedents” box on your handout: one, someone, everyone, anyone, somebody, everybody, anybody


How to avoid using 2 nd person

  • These words require singular pronouns like him, her, his, his/her. (Write these in the appropriate box on your handout.)


Examples

Examples

  • Everyone should bring (his, their) band uniform to the competition.

  • Anybody can raise (her, their) hand to participate in the discussion.

  • Someone had better confess (his, their) guilt, or everyone will be questioned.

  • One should always think before (he acts, they act).

    *If you use these words to avoid 2nd person in your paragraph, be sure to watch for agreement.


More singular antecedents

More Singular Antecedents

  • Other words that you can use to replace “you” include a person and an individual.

  • They also need singular pronouns.

  • An individual who wants to be a professional musician should make time in (his, their) schedule every day to practice.


Mixing it up

Mixing It Up

  • Be careful not to load one sentence up with too many of the singular words we’ve just discussed. It will be awkward and confusing. Pick one and then use personal pronouns like he, she, him, her, etc.

  • Awkward: A person should do one’s homework so that one’s teacher won’t yell at him.


How to avoid using 2 nd person

  • Better: A person should do his homework so that his teacher won’t yell at him. OR

  • One should do his homework so that his teacher won’t yell at him.


A more creative strategy

A More Creative Strategy

  • Don’t rely simply on pronouns to avoid 2nd person. Come up with some creative 3rd person labels that refer to your audience for the how-to paragraph.

  • If you’re writing about the perfect fly-fishing cast, how ‘bout “fly-fisherman” or “angler”?

  • If you’re writing about how to care for a pet iguana, try “lizard-lover” or “exotic pet owner.”


How to avoid using 2 nd person

  • What labels could you use for a paragraph about how to create the perfect party playlist on your iPod?


Variety is the spice of life

Variety is the Spice of Life

  • The best approach? Mix it up the right way with a mixture of generic labels and creative labels throughout your paragraph (but not in the same sentence).

  • Remember, most of the labels we’ve discussed can be made plural to provide more variety but, as above, not in the same sentence.


How to avoid using 2 nd person

  • Such “Plural Antecedents” include people and individuals, and they require plural pronouns like they, them, and their. (Write these in the boxes…)


The sneaky kind

The Sneaky Kind

  • Now it gets tricky. Some 2nd person isn’t easy to spot in a sentence. Check this out:

  • Make sure the toaster is unplugged before attempting to repair it.

  • What’s the subject of this sentence?

  • This is the voice used in a request, command, or suggestion, and the implied subject is…

  • YOU


How to fix the sneaky kind

How to Fix the Sneaky Kind

Solution #1: The repairman should make sure the toaster is unplugged before attempting to repair it.

*Write these steps on your handout.

  • Identify the role or function of the person the sentence addresses.

  • Come up with a creative label for that person.


How to avoid using 2 nd person

  • Make that label the subject of the sentence.

  • Add a helping verb like “should” or “must” or “needs to” or “ought to.”


A more sophisticated fix

A More Sophisticated Fix

Solution #2: Making sure that the toaster is unplugged before attempting to repair it will ensure that the handyman does not get electrocuted.

  • Add –ing to the opening verb.

  • Add a benefit, tip, or warning to the end of the sentence.

    *Write these steps on your handout.


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