Q. I am writing a thesis for my university and use the pronoun “we” instead of “I.” For example, “From this, we can conclude that …” I personally think this looks more scientific than using the “I” pronoun. However, a colleague of mine states that if I am the only one writing the thesis and doing the research, I should use “I,” because otherwise readers might wonder who else wrote the document. Do you know which one is better to use in my case?
A. “We” used to be more common in scholarly writing than it is now. The British use it more than Americans do. CMOS recommends using “I,” but if the literature in your field avoids this, you should follow suit. Either way, it’s fine to use “we” when referring to something that author and readers are implicitly doing together, as in your example.
Hello! I’m Emily Gordon, an editor, critic, copywriter, and internet lover since 1992. Emdashes, born in 2004, spent its formative years as a New Yorker fan blog. (The project garnered some nice compliments and press.) It’s now a collection of conversations—generally civilized—about punctuation, magazines, movies, design, and other things that stir me.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a small army of culture writers, editors, and artists. You can read all about the people who've helped build Emdashes here at “Who We?” (That’s a New Yorker joke. Old habits die hard.)
I welcome submissions, questions, corrections, and ardent, obsessive contributors. I also host occasional book-related contests and giveaways. Questioners and publishers, just email me.
Looking for The New Yorker magazine? Kudos on your classy taste. Here’s how to contact The New Yorker.
The original Emdashes pencil logo was designed by Jennifer Hadley, based on a 1943 Dorothy Gray ad.