Re: Use of Second Person

Subject: Re: Use of Second Person
From: "Virginia L. Krenn" <asdxvlk -at- OKWAY -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 1995 08:58:58 -0600

> On Mon, 11 Dec 1995, Greg Cento wrote:
>> Basically, I do as much writing as I possibly can using the second
>> person singular pronoun (actual or implied): "First you do this, then
>> you do that, tweak here, twist there. I find that this way I am able to
>> avoid those he/she/they constructions that some find awkward and others
>> find insulting (you know, that reverse discrimination/sexism song
>> (grin)).

George Allaman wrote:
> Thank you for bringing this up. I've wondered about this for some
> time and will be very interested to see what the consensus is.
> Personally I find the use of "you" - in user guides in particular -
> repulsive, although I can't make a convincing argument as to why. It
> seems overly familiar, as if treating the reader like a child,

This is how I felt if I read something in second person--which was not
often because I mostly read IBM manuals.

> as if I were writing a personal letter rather than a procedure. I avoid
> it where I can, but sometimes it is simply the only way out. I find the
> implied second person of the imperative mood a little less offensive,
> since it doesn't seem to be trying to anthropomorphize the document.
> Let the opinions fly.

Writing in econd person has been difficult for me to get used to since
all of my English and composition classes stressed the importance of
always using third person.

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