Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 10: Second Person

I think I'll briefly pontificate upon something that drives me nuts: using the second person in essay writing.

I don't like being lectured. Never have. And that's exactly how I feel when someone uses the second person "you" (or worse, you "understood").

You know what I mean, right? When you're reading along and suddenly out of the blue, the writer says "When you read Hawthorne, you know he will use obvious symbols" or something like that. Then you can feel your hackles start to rise and you grab that pen of some other color than red, and you circle every occurrence of "you." You emphatically write in the margin, "Avoid using second person in formal writing."

(See what I did? I used it. As an illustration only, mind you...)

So imagine my surprise when I turn to the story I'm teaching this week (which is on the syllabus I borrowed in large part from our resident professor and have fallen behind in re-planning) and it's written in the imperative. The "you, understood" second person.

Talk about feeling like nails grating on a chalkboard. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Since I've gotten onto my students already for using that in their essays, I can't wait to hear what they have to say about this story.

1 comment:

Monika said...

hahahaha Now I'm thinking, "Do I do that on my blog? Ugh, probably!" and it's making me want to scream because... I know someone who CONSTANTLY says, "Let me tell you something" before making a point in formal speech. It really, really grates on my nerves. It feels so condescending (probably because it happens so often). I'm going to watch out for this now. :D