When to use and not use “I” in your writing

Keeping strong tone in your writing engages the audience more. But how do you achieve it?

While being an editor on the 8Forty site, I’ve noticed lots of different types of mistakes. There’s always the common spelling or grammar mistakes we all make but one that stands out is how writers often use the word “I” and phrases like, “In my opinion” and “I think.” Using those phrases in your writing is often unnecessary and can make you sound uncertain about the points your expressing. Many teachers tell their students to avoid using “I” completely. The big question is, why shouldn’t writers use “I” in writing?

Writing articles comes with a lot of responsibility. A writer needs to be able to keep the same tone as the rest of the articles on the website. On 8forty, we don’t want to be “biased” but, unless you are writing journalism, we do want to be opinionated.

Using “In my opinion” or “I think” can make the ideas seem very weak, changeable and indirect. For example, “I think Stranger Things is overrated” seems very reserved and uncertain whereas “Stranger Things is overrated” is very firm and authoritative. The first example is very questionable and negotiable, whereas the second example is very strong and harder to question. The right language convinces the reader and gets them on your side. Your opinion can be used in writing, but to be persuasive, you should sound like you know what you are talking about. A reader is more interested in a confident and persuasive piece then a timid and weak piece.

It isn’t wrong to include opinion in your article, it just depends on what you’re writing. For example, if you’re reviewing a product, readers are looking to get your judgment on certain items before getting them themselves, so you would normally express your opinion on the product. Though when you use your opinion, you need to have supporting facts to prove it. Some content, such as a column may feature more personal references because they don’t always require a lot of facts and research. so the writing can be less formal. But it’s not usually necessary to use “I” is when your article is supported by sufficient facts and information. And in a news article, there should be no opinion or personal references at all. Most writing does include opinion, but that doesn’t mean you have to use the phrase, “in my opinion.” Taking away “I” or “in my opinion” and just leaving the opinion itself creates a stronger tone and a more concise style.

A writer’s ideas can be very strong and persuasive. They can often make the writing better. The way it’s presented in your writing is what defines if it’s confident and solid enough to be engaging and trustworthy to the audience.

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