There are a few questions I get asked by students on ‘The Grammatical Person…’
- Which tense should I write in?
- Should I write in the first person?
- How do I get an A grade in my student essay?
So I thought I would write a short blog on this topic – I hope it may be of help to some people. However, I do not claim to be a grammatical ninja…so please do consult with your own tutors and refer to your own university guidelines and learning outcomes for a more personalised approach.
Who is speaking in your essay? If it is an informal reflection, a diary or a blog, it will generally be your voice that we want to hear (first person). Speaking in the second person voice usually works well for advertising or promotional materials, however, it rarely becomes a feature in academia. Writing in the third person is usually the most scientific way of writing things… and so
- the person speaking (first person)
- the person listening or being spoken to (second person)
- the person being spoken about (third person)
|Subjective Case||Objective Case||Possessive Case|
|I, we||Me, us||My/mine/our/ours|
|Third person (Singular)||he (masculine)
|Third person (plural)||They||Them||Their/theirs/his/hers|
There are four present tense forms in English:
|Present simple:||I work|
|Present continuous:||I am working|
|Present perfect:||I have worked|
|Present perfect continuous:||I have been working|
So what about the student midwife’s or student nurse’s essay?
Well..Think of your essay/thesis/dissertation/research as a person/thing.
What is it going to do? What has it done? What is it doing?
Introduction – “This essay will describe and explore the various factors relating to the experience of women during the postnatal period”
Background – “The literature suggests that new mothers find it hard to bond with their babies where they experience a lack of compassion from those around them (references)”
Methodology – “This research firstly looked to explore the literature in relation to wound healing in diabetics. It did this by ….”
Results – “The research data collected within this research via a series of qualitative interviews highlights that midwives feel better able to communicate with doctors if the doctors are nice to them. These midwives also became better practitioners as they communicated with each other more effectively”
Discussion – “It is interesting to note that the results presented within this research suggest that home birth is a less safe option for childbearing women, as many of these studies fail to look at home birth in the wider context and only focus upon…”
Conclusion – “This dissertation has outlined 32 interventions which assist medication adherence in patient groups who are reported to experience symptoms of poor mental health.”
Reflection – “Throughout the process of writing this essay, I found it refreshing to discover how I could enhance my critical thinking by synthesizing the results of my research in line with the findings presented. As a nurse, I have previously only tried to interpret the literature thematically, and so in taking this new approach, I have now been able to develop my skills.”
Do you see?… as the essay progresses…so does the past and present tense. Additionally, the research/essay/dissertation remains to be a separate entity from the writer. This is how most scientific papers are written. Only within the reflective section has the writer referred to themselves (this may be required for some essays, but generally not in scientific papers).
I hope this will help some students to clarify how they would like to present their work.
Until next time – Look after yourselves and each other 💛💙💜💚