Essay writers should avoid unnecessary phrases such as, “I believe,” “I feel,” and “in my opinion.” The grader knows whose opinion is being expressed and he or she does not need to be reminded.

WEAK: I am of the opinion that excessive self-reference may add a level of pomposity to an otherwise effective essay.

FORCEFUL: Excessive self-reference may add a level of pomposity to an otherwise effective essay.

Your statements are stronger and more believable when you say them with conviction and do not use self-reference. They appear more professional this way. Self-reference, like qualification, is effective when used sparingly.

1. Exercise: Avoid self-reference

Restructure these sentences to remove the self-reference.

1. I must emphasize that I am not saying the author does not have a point.

ANSWER

The author has a point.

2. If I were a college president, I would implement several specific reforms to combat apathy.

ANSWER

College presidents should implement several specific reforms to combat apathy.

3. It is my belief that either alternative would prove disastrous.

ANSWER

Either alternative would prove disastrous.

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