Facebook pixel Second Person Point of View: Best Use of You and Strategies for Replacing You

Second Person Point of View

Second-person point of view, which directly addresses the reader, works well for giving advice or explaining how to do something. A process analysis paper would be a good choice for using the second-person point of view, as shown in this paragraph:

In order to prepare microwave popcorn, you will need a microwave and a box of microwave popcorn which you’ve purchased at a grocery store. First of all, you need to remove the popcorn package from the box and take off the plastic wrap. Next, open your microwave and place the package in the center with the proper side up. Then set your microwave for the suggested number of minutes as stated on the box. Finally, when the popcorn is popped, you’re ready for a great treat.

While the example above outlines best use of second person, academic writing often avoids second-person point of view in favor of third-person point of view. Second person can be too casual for formal writing, and it can also alienate the reader if the reader does not identify with the idea.

Replacing You

In academic writing, sometimes you needs to be replaced with nouns or proper nouns to create more formality to clarify the idea. Here are some examples:

Inappropriate Use of "You"

Revised to Replace "You"

Quality of education decreases when you allow overcrowded classrooms.
(Are you, the reader, allowing the conditions?)
Quality of education decreases when state legislators allow overcrowded classrooms.
(Identifies who is doing what.)
On Saturday afternoons, you usually have to stand in long lines to buy groceries.
(Are you, the reader, shopping in on this day and time?)
Saturday afternoon shoppers usually have to stand in long lines to buy groceries.
(Identifies who is doing what.)
In many states, you have prisons with few rehabilitation programs.
(Do you, the reader, have prisons?)
In many states, prisons have few rehabilitation programs.
(Identifies the actual subject of the sentence.)
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