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Home » Module 3 Unit 5: Writing cohesively » Using reference words - page 2/8
Unit 1: Planning your essayUnit 2: Structuring paragraphsUnit 3: Introductions & conclusionsUnit 4: Writing persuasivelyUnit 5: Writing cohesively

Categories of reference words

There are six main kinds of reference words.

1. Personal pronouns

The personal pronouns are I, you, she, he, it, we, they.

Because an impersonal style of writing is strongly favoured by most academic disciplines, you may rarely find yourself using pronouns like I, you and we.

The most commonly used personal pronouns in academic writing are it (referring to things) and they (referring to either things or people). In academic writing, ‘things’ are usually phenomena and abstract nouns, and people are usually previous researchers. He and she may also be used, usually to refer to authors previously mentioned in the text.


2. Possessive pronouns

The possessive pronouns show a relationship of ownership or ‘belonging to’. They are: my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, its, our, ours, their, theirs.

As with personal pronouns, my and our are not commonly used in academic writing. The most commonly used possessive pronouns in academic writing are its, their, his, her.