If I am writing an argumentative essay, is it grammatically correct to use a phrase like "I gathered from the article," or are you not supposed to use "I"?

Expert Answers

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In the context you have provided, while it is grammatically correct, it is not ideal to use the first person.

Some teachers have specific rubrics regarding the use of first-person pronouns in argumentative essays, but in general academic writing, the use of "I" is accepted to varying degrees in different fields; it is especially present in persuasive and other argument-based writing. However, the first person must be used carefully, because it can drastically weaken your argument.

Phrases like "I think," "I believe," and "in my opinion" suggest subjectivity. If your strongest support for an argument is that you believe it to be true, then the reader can easily dismiss your position as a matter of opinion. The crux of a solid academic argument is dispelling dissent and presenting your position as clear and reasonable. Instead of "I gathered from the article," you may wish to say something like "from the information presented in [article], it can clearly be seen that [argument]". This would be strongest alongside an explanation of the pertinent details from the article and how they support your point.

In the "further reading" section of this answer, I have added a link to a webpage from the University of New Zealand that has what I have found to be a clear and succinct explanation of different ways to use and avoid using the first person; I hope you find it helpful.

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