Three examples of effective use of the word “I” in essay writing

In a recent blog, I wrote about how the use of the pronoun “I,” once frowned upon, is now widely accepted in essay writing.  Here are three effective examples of writers using “I”:

  • “I share the concerns of other city workers that the return to office is too sudden. . .” [The New York Times, September 15, 2021] Jennifer Gavel, who has been working from home during the pandemic, here expresses her frustration with a mandate that city workers in New York must return to the office.  Because she is a city worker, using “I” strengthens her argument.  She is an insider giving voice to a concern of her colleagues.


  • “Not everyone observes this holiday [Yom Kippur], of course. But in its practices, I believe there is wisdom that can help all of us.” [The New York Times, September 15, 2021]  The writer, Rabbi David Wolpe of Los Angeles, is in a position because of his training and experience to know about Yom Kippur and to explore its nuances.  Could he have left out “I believe” and still have written an effective essay.   Yes.  But is it natural for him to include himself in this essay?  Yes, especially since he begins and ends the essay with an anecdote about a friend.


  • “I didn’t understand what I was seeing but I knew it was important, and came to understand it had to do with loyalty and grief. And of course I remember it now because that is what I am feeling toward 9/11.” [The Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2021]  Columnist Peggy Noonan here refers to a childhood incident, something she witnessed and later recalled as the anniversary of September 11, 2001, approached.  She could have written about grief in the abstract, but her personal memory is a more moving introduction to her column.

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