When is OK to omitting pronouns and possessive adjectives in fiction? Examples:

She called me that weekend while I was cleaning my apartment.

She called me that weekend while cleaning my apartment.

Once on my bed, I took the box and opened it.

Once on bed, I took the box and opened it.

He explained to me that a friend of his.

He explained that a friend.

  • 1
    In the first example, the second wording is less clear (until reaching my apartment), but "called that weekend while I" would work. In the second example, one would use "the bed" (which might be too abstracted). For the third example, the second wording would generally be preferred ("to me" might be used to indicate specificity, e.g., if others in the conversation already knew or if the explanation is especially personal (i.e., he trusted me enough to explain it to me), similarly "of his"). This deserves a general answer, but I wanted to provide at least a quick comment.
    – user5232
    Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 12:04
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    Your initial phrases all seem fine as is. That's generally how (English speaking) people talk and think. It's just good to vary sentences so they don't all start with a pronoun - especially the same one. E.G. I did this. I did that... Once we know who's talking or doing something, that can often just be assumed or added later in the sentence if necessary.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 3:05

1 Answer 1


I think in all three examples you're starting to impede comprehension, and change the meaning of the sentence.

  • Example 1 sounds like the caller is cleaning the apartment of the narrator, because the subject hasn't changed from the beginning of the sentence.
  • Example 3 leaves the friend in question: whose friend is he talking about?
  • In Example 2 you have to have an article of some kind — if not my then the, at the very least.

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