Can you use personal pronouns in IELTS Essays?
This is a question I have been asked quite a few times and there is some confusion even among IELTS teachers about this. The quick answer is that it is fine to use some personal pronouns in IELTS essays but not all. There is nothing in the marking criteria that says you should not use them either. As long as they are kept to a minimum.
Pronouns are words like I, You, We, Us, Them, They. But if you are using the word ‘you’ or ‘us’ in the essay then that is informal and not suited to an ‘academic’ IELTS essay. See this link here for more about that
However, if you are giving an opinion you need to use ‘I think / I believe / In my view… / In my opinion..’
Let’s take a look at essay ‘instruction words’.
The instruction words clearly ask you for your opinion so it is unavoidable to write an essay without at least a couple of personal pronouns.
In each of these examples they ask for your own opinion or examples from your own experience. It would be very hard to write your opinion without using the word ‘I ‘ or ‘my’ but in an introduction, you can use an academic form such as ‘This essay beleives… / This essay agrees that… / This essay disagrees with…. ‘
Use these phrases below for stating a view:
- ‘ I am of the opinion that….’
- ‘ I think….’
- ‘I believe…’
- ‘In my opinion…..’
- ‘In my view…’
- ‘I would argue that…..’
- ‘I agree / I disagree’
However, do not use the phrases below because they are used informally in speaking:
- ‘ As far as I’m concerned..’
- ‘ I reckon…’
- ‘ I’d have to say that….’
- ‘To be honest, I reckon..’
- ‘To tell you the truth…..’
- ‘If you ask me …..’
A more formal style that is useful when giving your opinion in the introduction is:
- ‘This essay agrees with…..’
- This essay believes that….’
- ‘This essay does not agree that…..’
When we are writing an essay we often have to give a general or public opinion and use referencing such as in this sentence below I found from a student essay recently.
‘Many people believe that global warming is caused by Co2 from cars and emissions from factories.. They say that regulations need to be put in place……..’
Here the word ‘they’ is used to reference ‘people’, so it is necessary to use pronouns in referencing.
How about in Writing Task 1 Academic?
Do not use personal pronouns in Writing Task 1 academic, this task is very different from an essay. You need to write a factual report so personal pronouns are not needed. I advise using the passive voice such as: ‘It can be seen from the graph that….’ or ‘As the chart illustrates, sales of automobiles dropped sharply….’ and so on..
We never give our opinion or personal experience in IELTS Writing Task 1 academic reports. In Writing Task 1 general you can use pronouns because you may get an informal letter task.
Here is an example of an introduction, it has been paraphrased with a thesis statement.
‘Some people believe that school children should not be given homework by their teachers, whereas other argue that homework plays an important role in the education of children. Discuss both views and give your own opinion‘
Introduction (paraphrased with a thesis statement)
‘Some people would argue that it is not a good idea for teachers to assign homework to school children, while others say that teachers should provide home assignemnets because it is an essential part of learning. I believe that youngsters need to be assigned home study tasks to develop their knowledge and help their exam results.’
Just remember to not overuse personal pronouns, they need to be used when giving an opinion in your essay. Don’t use the word ‘you’ either. The introduction and conclusion will most likely contain a personal pronoun.
Do you need help with Writing task 2 or Writing Task 1?
Any questions, leave a comment below.