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Teacher Tips and Answers

Avoiding Pronoun Shifts

interview

A first-person pronoun (I, me, my, we, us) refers to the speaker, a second-person pronoun (you, your, yours) refers to the person being spoken to, and a third-person pronoun (he, she, it, they, them, their, theirs) refers to a person or thing being spoken about. Avoid shifting person:

Incorrect: When reporters write news stories, you should interview witnesses.

      (Reporters are third-person—people spoken about—but you is second person—someone spoken to.)

Correct: When you write news stories, you should interview witnesses.

Correct: When reporters write news stories, they should interview witnesses.

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