2

When I write in English I use "I" a lot. Especially when I talk about something I have done or an experiment or any thing. My English is upper intermediate. What is the reason behind this? Which skill should I improve to solve this issue?

Have you noticed how many I's I have used in this post? :)

  • 2
    When you speak or write in the first person, it's not remarkable that you find yourself using the first person pronoun! You can say "When writing in English..." instead of "When I write in English." You can say "...when talking about something.." instead of "...when I talk about something..." – P. E. Dant Jun 30 '17 at 21:57
  • 1
    Why do you describe this as an "issue"? "I" is a common word. This post seems bizarre, like if you asked for advice on how to use the word "the" less often. Using a certain word "a lot" is not a problem; using a word too much is, and you haven't given any explanation of why you think you use "I" too much. – sumelic Jul 1 '17 at 1:07
  • 1
    @sumelic I believe the real problem is sentence variety, not overusing "I". For that reason, I recently updated my answer to shift focus to that topic. – James Martin Jul 1 '17 at 1:38
  • 2
    Please consider reopening this question. It's actually a very well-focused request to illustrate ways of varying sentence structure in English—an important part of learning the language for an intermediate-level learner. Foreign-language learners often find themselves sticking to relatively few, "safe", "known" sentence structures; at some point, they need to see what freedom the language really offers. At least, that's what my Italian teacher told me at one point. :) There's an opportunity here to write a good answer not only for the OP but for many intermediate-level learners. – Ben Kovitz Jul 1 '17 at 3:02
  • 4
    @ColleenV Chiming in to +1 Ben. When I first looked at the question, I thought "too broad" immediately. Then after a facile snark ("Stop talking about yourself") I realized that the question is not about "talking about myself". It's about how to break out of the safety cage that Ben mentions. – P. E. Dant Jul 1 '17 at 3:14
3

There is nothing wrong with using "I" and you can't really use it "too much". A more reasonable concern would be not having enough sentence variety, and what appears to be using "I" too much is just a symptom of that.

  1. You can use -ing verb forms instead of writing the subject ("I") in each dependent clause. Compare "when I write in English" to "when writing in English", and "when I talk about something" to "when talking about something".

  2. The subject ("I") can also be removed from independent clauses by using the passive voice. Compare "which skill should I improve" to "which skill could be improved", and "how many I's I have used" to "how many I's have been used".

  3. Often, reusing possessives like "my" is not necessary. In "rewrite my post to get rid of the I's" you already referred to the post, so you can simply say "the post" instead of "my post".

  4. You can also describe things themselves instead of your experience of them, for example "The water was very cold" instead of "I thought the water was very cold", unless your experience is relevant to the discussion.

Remember, these are techniques to improve variety, and overusing them simply would make it harder to read!

  • One can use "I" too much. Such a person often talks about himself so much he quickly becomes a bore and a poor conversationalist. – green_ideas Jul 2 '17 at 1:27
  • @Clare That's not what the asker intended. The asker is specifically asking about writing style, and you can talk about yourself too much without "I", too. For more information, you can see the comment chain on the OP, in which we're trying to improve the clarity of the question, to prevent confusion like your own (there have been three independent incidences of "stop talking about yourself" jokes that all were retracted by their authors). In addition, the question originally asked a bit more directly about writing style, but that component was edited out for other reasons. – James Martin Jul 2 '17 at 3:44
  • If the user is asking about writing style the question is offtopic. Comments are not part of the question. – green_ideas Jul 2 '17 at 20:12
0

Since you have mentioned experiments—scientific writing tends to use passive constructions that omit the doer. You can readily avoid the first person in that kind of writing.

  • 1
    Maybe it's OK in scientific writing, but very often that makes for horrible reading. – user22427 Jul 1 '17 at 15:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.