For one of my Engineering Courses, I had to write a professional Business Letter to inform my hypothetical employer of my analysis about two alternatives, and which one of them is better.

For this letter, as I was communicating directly with the employer, and using my own calculations and results, I thought first person would the right way to write (I used lots of "I", some of "my" etc.). Although I think I did a decent job, the professor took lots of points off saying that my letter should always be in third person.

I hope someone who is familiar with this matter can help me shed some light on this matter. Should business letters always be written in third person? I am not compatible with the professor, so I figured I should check online first, just to be sure. I am not a native speaker, so any information and advice, no matter how trivial, would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

  • Your description of the situation brings me to the provisional conclusion that your professor is either an idiot or is deliberately trying to undermine you. But to be completely sure, I would ask your professor what the reason is for their objection to your use of the first person, and what objective criteria they are basing it on (e.g. a coursework style guide, procedural manual etc.). At this point, it sounds as though you might not have much to lose by asking them to justify themselves. Incidentally, which country is your course taking place in? – Erik Kowal May 18 '15 at 1:04
  • Thanks for your quick response. I am taking this course at an university in the US. The professor did provide some very generic guidelines about the writing the letter, but I am sure that it did not mention anything regarding third of first person. That is why I want to have inputs from other people who are more familiar with the matter before bringing it up. I tried to do some researching online, but could not find anything conclusive about the norms of business letter. – Edward Johnson May 18 '15 at 1:21
  • I can’t conceive of the circumstances under which this kind of analysis would be contained in a business letter. (which I define as one which is put in an envelope and mailed to the recipient) this type of information would typically be sent by memorandum or by email or perhaps published internally or externally as a white paper. As a white paper there are typically company guidelines against using the first person. – Jim May 18 '15 at 1:56

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