should essays be written in first person

Should Essays Be Written in First Person?

When it comes to writing essays, many students and writers often wonder what perspective they should take. While some essays are written in third person, others are written in first person. The question of whether essays should be written in first person is often debated, with some arguing that it is too informal and others arguing that it is more engaging for the reader.

In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of using the first-person perspective in essays. We will also discuss the situations in which it may be appropriate to use the first person and when it may be better to avoid it.

The Advantages of Writing in First Person

Writing in the first person can offer several advantages in essay writing. First, it allows the writer to express their personal perspective, experiences, and thoughts directly, creating a sense of authenticity and connection with the reader. By using “I” or “we,” the writer can convey their unique voice and establish a personal connection, which can make the essay more engaging and relatable.

Additionally, writing in the first person can provide a platform for self-reflection and introspection, allowing the writer to express their emotions, opinions, and insights in a direct and compelling manner.

The Disadvantages of Writing in First Person

While writing in the first person can be advantageous, it also comes with certain drawbacks. One limitation is the potential for bias or subjectivity. Writing in the first person may result in a narrow perspective that is limited to the writer’s personal experiences and viewpoints, potentially disregarding alternative perspectives or evidence.

Additionally, excessive use of the first person can make the essay sound overly self-centered or self-indulgent, detracting from the objectivity and credibility of the work. It is essential to strike a balance and ensure that the use of first-person pronouns serves a clear purpose and aligns with the overall tone and objectives of the essay.

When Is It Appropriate to Use First Person in Essays?

The use of first person in essays is generally appropriate in certain situations. Personal narratives, reflective essays, and opinion pieces often lend themselves well to the first-person perspective. When sharing personal experiences, providing subjective insights, or presenting personal arguments, using the first person can add depth and authenticity to the writing.

Moreover, when the essay focuses on the writer’s unique perspective or personal journey, using the first person can be a natural and effective choice. It is important to consider the essay’s purpose, audience, and the specific requirements or guidelines provided by the instructor or publisher when deciding whether to use first person.

When Is It Better to Avoid First Person in Essays?

In certain types of essays or academic writing, it may be more appropriate to avoid or minimize the use of first person. Objective research papers, scientific reports, and analytical essays typically prioritize a more detached and impartial tone.

These genres require the writer to present information, analysis, and arguments based on evidence and logical reasoning rather than personal experiences or opinions. In such cases, using the third person or adopting a more formal tone can enhance the credibility and objectivity of the essay.

It is crucial to consider the expectations and conventions of the specific field of study or discipline when determining the appropriate use of first person.

Tips for Writing Effective Essays in First Person

When writing an essay in the first person, it is important to keep a few key tips in mind. First, maintain a balance between personal experiences and broader insights or analysis. While sharing personal anecdotes can be compelling, it is crucial to connect them to larger themes or arguments to ensure relevance and coherence.

Second, be mindful of the essay’s tone and purpose. Maintain professionalism and avoid excessive self-centeredness or emotional indulgence.

Third, support your claims and arguments with evidence and research to add credibility and avoid relying solely on personal opinions or anecdotes.

Finally, revise and edit your essay carefully to ensure clarity, coherence, and effective communication of ideas.


In conclusion, the decision of whether to use first person in an essay ultimately depends on the writer’s goals, the essay’s purpose, and the audience. Writing in first person can provide a personal touch to the essay, making it more engaging and relatable to the reader.

However, it is important to avoid being too informal or using first person excessively, as this can detract from the credibility of the essay. As with any writing decision, it’s crucial to consider the context and purpose of the essay before deciding on the perspective to use.