DEMONSTRATION ONLY: This demonstration presents an abbreviated version of the complete PLACE course. Click 'Next' at the bottom of the screen or make a selection from the links on the left to begin. Not all links are available for the demo.
Recognize Unity, Focus, and Development in Writing
Recognizing Unnecessary Shifts in Point of View or Distracting Details that Impair the Development of the Main Idea in a Piece of Writing
The point of view from which an essay is written must be consistent. That point of view may be:
- first person (I or we),
- second person (you) or
- third person (he, she, it, or they).
The paragraph on the previous frame, for example, is written in third person (the prospective college student), while this text is written in second person (you), addressing the reader directly. Generally, you want to maintain the point of view with which you begin the essay. Otherwise, you will distract the reader.
The most common shift in point of view in college writing occurs with a shift from first or third person to second.
“Just getting accepted into a college may be difficult. First, the prospective student must face mountains of paperwork for each college under consideration. You may have to fill out applications that are pages long.”
Because the writer began the essay in third person, that point of view needs to be maintained. He/she should not have switched to second person. The focus would be improved by changing either the second sentence:
“Just getting accepted into a college may be difficult. First, you, as a prospective student, must face mountains of paperwork for each college under consideration”
or the third sentence:
“He/She may have to fill out applications that are pages long.”
Choosing between these changes depends on the analysis you have made of purpose and audience.
On the test, you must be able to recognize inconsistencies and to recognize revisions that will improve unity. Always look at the sentences before and after the one in question. Your answer should have the same tone and point of view established by the rest of the passage. Do not select the sentence that you think sounds best by itself. First, you analyze; then you evaluate.