The Two Paragraph Dilemma

It’s interesting to examine the difference between two paragraphs that are saying the same thing but in entirely different ways.  Simply changing the mode in which the writer addresses their audience can have a large impact on the relationship between the two, as well as the overall tone of the piece.

The first paragraph, because the language speaks directly to the reader using personal pronouns, makes the paragraph more informal by nature. The author speaks of themselves as “I” and the audience as “you”, personalizing the argument so that the reader feels the writer is speaking directly to them. In my personal case, being able to refer to myself and the readers in this way, and unifying both groups using the word “us”, allowed for a greater sense of audience awareness. Due to my topic being the use of social media, calling out the audience and their particular use of these platforms makes the paragraph more personal and allows for the audience to feel as though they are supposed to be reading it. Being explicit about your audience and what you’re trying to say makes an argument clearer and more direct. If the relationship is explicit, the reader can better feel that they are the intended audience and perhaps then, in turn, better relate to the topic at hand. A downside of this explicit relationship is if the reader does not relate to the material. Then, it is possible that they feel that the opinion of the author is being pushed at them, or that the author is making assumptions about their beliefs. Additionally, the tone becomes much more casual and sometimes makes the argument seem less intelligible.

On the other hand, having the relationship between speaker and subject be implicit has its positive and negative aspects as well. In contrast to a more explicit relationship, a more implicit relationship will typically have more sophisticated language. Such paragraphs make more general claims about society in general, or refer to “you” and “I” as “individuals.” Without mentioning personal pronouns, the tone of the paragraph seems more research-based and perhaps more intellectual for this reason. Alternatively, implicit language can seem impersonal. The reader may have a tendency to assume that the piece was not intended for them, as calling the reader out directly may have a greater effect.

Overall, both implicit and explicit language have their effective and ineffective elements, and the writer must decide what will more appropriately express their intended message.

One thought to “The Two Paragraph Dilemma”

  1. Hi Kelly,
    As I was writing these two paragraphs about my repurposing project, I also found that the first paragraph, in which myself and my audience were explicit, was much more powerful. Using personal pronouns makes it obvious to your reader that you are speaking to them and I believe that this grasps their attention. My second paragraph, in which the my audience was implicit, lacked the same sense of urgency and passion that I was able to convey in the first paragraph. However, as a writer, I found that I gained some credit by eliminating the personal pronouns. It made the piece seem more formal, thereby making it seem like my message was coming from someone who was serious and knowledgable about the subject.

Leave a Reply