2

This question already has an answer here:

English is not my first language and often I (as a Portuguese speaker) find that my sentences get too awkward with the number of personal pronouns that I usually use.

Here is a generic example:

Thank you, #PERSONNAME for contacting me. I do appreciate that you did it. I don't know anyone at the moment, but I will let my contacts know and if I find someone interested in the position I will let you know about it.

As you can see, I used the personal pronoun 5 times in a very simple paragraph, I wonder if this is "Okay" or how could I rephrase (in general, not just those sentences) to avoid such excessive usage?

marked as duplicate by anongoodnurse, tchrist, Mitch, Matt Gutting, Ellie Kesselman Dec 12 '14 at 23:00

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • I believe that me is also a personal pronoun in your example. – Minnow Dec 9 '14 at 21:59
  • @Minnow yes it is, I forgot to highlight it. – Mansueli Dec 9 '14 at 22:02
  • 3
    Don't worry about repeating pronouns. They get used a lot in English. Just think of it this way: if you'd written it in Portuguese, you'd have had just as many verbs in the first person singular. The only difference is that 1sg doesn't always end in -o in Portuguese, whereas the pronoun is always I in English; that doesn't really make much of a difference, though. Your quote here reads as perfectly natural to me, though Sven Yargs’ version below is stylistically more elegant. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 9 '14 at 23:23
  • 1
    I do not believe that active voice is the only way to avoid this, so disagree with the close vote @medica. Will try to demonstrate in an answer. – itsbruce Dec 9 '14 at 23:30
  • 1
    @tchrist Actually, I was just thinking that 1sg doesn’t have to be present indicative active—you’ve got -ei, -i, -a, -e, -ia, -ava, -ria, etc. in other tenses and moods, which brings more variety into the 1sg forms than the pronoun I, which is always constant. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 10 '14 at 8:00
3

There are many, many ways to avoid personal pronouns. One is the passive voice, but often there are simply alternative ways of phrasing.

Thank you, #PERSONNAME for contacting me.

  • Thank you, #PERSONNAME, for your enquiry.
  • Thank you, #PERSONNAME, for getting in touch.
  • Thank you, #PERSONNAME, for considering this firm/company/business

I don't know of anyone at the moment who meets your needs

  • There is nobody on our books who currently meets your needs
  • None of the current list of job-seekers quite fit the bill

but my contacts may be able to suggest someone who does

  • but enquiries may well turn up a good match

if I find someone interested in the position I will let you know about it

  • You can expect to hear (from us) as soon as a suitable candidate is found.
  • ... who will promptly be passed on to you.

Since you (or the person saying I, if that is not you) represent a business, one simple way to reduce repetition is to switch between I/my/me and we/our/us. Another, as I have shown, is to refer to the company or to shift the subject to another person/people in the sentence ("There is nobody" rather than "I don't know of anybody"). Switching between several of these different options, while still occasionally saying I, will be better than simply alternating between I and we (which would risk looking artificial and strained).

6

The easiest way to avoid the thicket of I's here is to let the other people or objects in your message shoulder the burden of some of the action. You can clear out two instances of I simply by shifting responsibility for some of the action in the third sentence of your example from yourself to your contacts. And since the second sentence "I do appreciate that you did it" merely reiterates the thanks that you expressed in the first sentence, you can delete it altogether. That leaves you with a tidier message that also contains three fewer instances of I:

Thank you, #PERSONNAME for contacting me. I don't know of anyone at the moment who meets your needs, but my contacts may be able to suggest someone who does and who is interested in the position. If so, I will let you know.

A similar strategy should work in many other instances where I crops up too frequently for comfort.

  • 1
    Voted to close as dupe, but your answer should definitely be incorporated. – anongoodnurse Dec 9 '14 at 22:55
  • 1
    dupe? not at all! the main thing of the question is the fact that such excessive usage of personal pronouns is considered , well, as a poor style in, say, Russian. BUT it is OK in English as I see it in many works from Tolkien to Conan Doyle and beyond. So I understand the reason behind the question and it is, really, of certain interest to those who was not born with English as a mother tongue. – Rossitten Dec 10 '14 at 1:17
2

The original text contained a lot of clutter.

I've simplified it as much as I can — partly by reorganizing it, partly by making substitutions that remove one unnecessary repetition of contact(s) and two of know. I've also eliminated me and reduced the counts of I and my to 2 and 1 respectively.

Thank you for getting in touch, #PERSONNAME. Currently, I don't know anyone who might be interested in the position, but will ask my contacts whether they do; if the answer is yes, I'll relay you the details.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.