Writing Assignment: Write An Exploration Of Personal Pronouns

by Randy Murray on April 18, 2014

Pronouns are some of the fundamental building blocks of language and writing. They seem quite simple: I, You, He, She, It, We, and They.

These words are simple and easy to define. But to the writer each of these words is a clue that writers need to pay close attention to what they are doing. Pronouns can be used from the personal perspective, but they can also alert the writer that they are attempting to switch perspective. Pronouns indicate that the perspective remains with the “I” and cannot completely switch to another’s perspective. Pronouns do not allow the switch of point of view.

It might seem simple to write personally about what you directly witness or experience. It is much more difficult to switch to what another person or group of persons think, feel, or does.

I have found that pronouns are very helpful signposts. When you find that you are using one, stop and examine it closely. Are you ready to do the work to think and act as another, to examine motives and thoughts as well as actions? You can keep your personal experience, but can you accurately convey what others do?

A pronoun always puts the point of view in perspective to others.

For today’s assignment, write a short exploration of the basic pronouns: I, You, He, She, It, We, They. Use this opportunity to convey an experience shared by multiple people and use each pronoun in turn.

For example, a group of people on a street corner witness a car accident. You are there as well. What do you see? Next, attempt to convey the same incident from the perspective of each of the following:

  • What did he see?
  • What did she see?
  • What did we see?
  • What did they see?

And, what did a camera (it) see?

This is a deceptively simple exercise. I urge you to not invent long personal interior monologs for this exercise. Keep things simple.

For bonus points, consider how each of these perspectives might have been different.


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