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Section 11.1.2.3

Person

Person is determined by whether writers are referring to themselves, to theirreaders, or to objects, ideas or persons other than themselves and their readers. Person is important for choosing pronouns and subject-verb agreement endings. Pronouns may have anyof these three persons in English:

  • First person, which includes the writer (I/we)
  • Second person, which includes the reader and excludes the writer (you)
  • Third person, which excludes both the writer and the reader (he/she/it/they)

Choose appropriate pronouns to express the nounsinvolved in your sentences.

Subject-verb agreement also depends on the person of the subject. In the present tense, if the subject is a third-person singular noun, then the verbusually takes the agreement ending -s.


The president reads my report over and over without anyshow of satisfaction.

If you are using the verb be in the past tenseand the subject is a first- or third-person singular noun (I, he, she,it), use was.


Nevertheless, my department head was impressed by thereport.

If the subject is a second-person singular noun (you) or a first-,second- or third-person plural noun (we, you, they), usewere.


We (you, they) were scheduled to read the report afterthe president finished it.

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