Writing a paper, the conclusion – day 5: confusing words – pronouns

Writing a paper, the conclusion – day 5: confusing words – pronouns

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Confusing pronouns

In the English language common pronouns are some of the most frequently used words, but they are frequently misused.

Here are some of them below.

It’s and its

‘It’s’ with an apostrophe is an informal construction and is not used informal writing such as science articles. ‘It’s’ is short for it is.

For example: it’s important not to use informal writing in your published scientific work.

Or: it’s  better to collect the samples randomly than in any order.

Where as ‘its’ without the apostrophe is a possessive pronoun.

For example: The journal gained its first impact factor.

Or: the study had its first results returned.

You’re and your

‘You’re’ is short for you are and again is an informal way of writing or speaking.

For example: You’re going to have to learn how to do this.

Or: You’re a great example to your colleagues.

Whereas ‘your’ is a possessive.

For example: Your poster has been chosen for a prize.

Or: Your article has been accepted in a high impact journal.

Who’s and whose

Who’s is short for who is and again is for informal writing or speaking.

For example: who’s writing the conclusion for our article?

Or: who’s collecting the data for this?

Whose is possessive and means belonging or associated with which person.

For example: whose data is this?

Or: the author, whose article was recently published in….

We’re, were and where

‘We’re’ is the contracted form of ‘we are’ and as such is used only in informal writing and speaking.

For example: We’re the collaboration group that provided the data for this study.

‘Were’ is the singular past and plural past of ‘be’ and can be used with ‘we’, ‘you’ and ‘they’.

For example: we were very glad to hear about the important findings of this study

Or: They were the control group that received [x] treatment.

‘Where’ describes a place or position.

For example: where is the committee meeting?

They’re, their and there

‘They’re’ is the contracted form of they are and again is for informal speaking or writing.

For example: they’re going to proceed with their choice of…

‘Their’ is possessive and means associated with things.

For example: their study first highlighted the amount of plastic now in the oceans.

‘There’ refers to a place or can be used to tell someone something.

For example: we can go there to study rare birds.

Or: There is a good explanation for the recent change in weather.


We will finish this week with a final ‘conlcusion’ extract for you to read through this week. This one is nice and concise, so won’t take you much time. We have highlighted a few key phrases in bold in the text. They are similar to those from previous Journal entries, so we have not added any additional explanation. You will also see some of the pronouns from above in this extract.

Sleep-promoting neurons remodel their response properties to calibrate sleep drive with environmental demands


Given the important roles that DA and AstA play in regulating motivated behaviors, including sleep, we studied their impact on a subset of sleep-promoting neurons. Our data reveal that AstA is wake-promoting and likely serves to maintain waking during periods of high sleep drive. In addition, our data reveal that time-restricted feeding or 18 h of starvation recruits the Dop1R1 to sleep-promoting neurons to maintain wakefulness during the day. These results are consistent with our previous data showing that the wake-promoting lLNvs recruit the Pdfr following sleep loss to facilitate waking and that wing-cut reactivates a developmental sleep circuit. The ability of sleep- and wake-promoting neurons to alter their own physiology, including the recruitment of a new receptor, provides important clues into sleep regulation and function.

This extract is taken from: Dissel S, Klose MK, van Swinderen B, Cao L, Ford M, et al. (2022) Sleep-promoting neurons remodel their response properties to calibrate sleep drive with environmental demands. PLOS Biology 20(9): e3001797. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001797

Further study for this week

Hopefully this week you have learnt enough to help you to write your own conclusions in English. Try the short quiz below to test your understanding of today’s pronouns.

Lesson tags: Confusing words, English for scientists, pronouns, Writing a conclusion
Back to: English for Scientists