How to write in first, second and third person

When a writer writes they create a piece of work to entertain the reader. The ultimate aim is to engage the readers in a meaningful manner with the written piece. This engagement occurs when the writer can comprehend several writing viewpoints. A writer needs to know how to write in first, second, and third person which are called points of view.

The following article intends to clarify what are the first, second and third person. Also, points of view so that writers can select the most appropriate one for their written endeavours. 

What is a point of view?

Every genre of writing has a point of view (POV). The narrator’s position or perspective from which the narration is being done is referred to as the point of view in English. The reader is informed about the character experiencing the event or subject of the writing through the author’s point of view.

So, a writer needs to understand the different points of view in English.

Points of view are described as first person, second person, and third person. Point of view affects both grammar and how a story is told. The grammatical definition of point of view focuses on the pronouns that are employed in a certain situation.

What are the first, second, and third person points of view?

A point of view is first and foremost the position from which a piece of material is written. The first, second, and third person are the three different sorts of points of view used in literature. When someone writes in the first person, they are the speaker, according to the convention. If the writer is addressing their readers, then they are employing the second person point of view. Last but not least, the third-person viewpoint makes it clear that the writer is speaking to a different individual.

Any writer must study the grammar behind the first person, second person, and third person points of view. It is important to understand how to identify the first, second, and third person narratives to produce content that attracts readers.

How to identify the first, second, and third person points of view?

Points of view often fall into one of three categories: first, second, or third person. To know how to write in the first, second, and third person, writers should know how to identify the first, second, and third person. To make the reader feel as though they are experiencing the narrative firsthand, draw them deeper into it, or present the readers with differing perspectives, the author chooses a point of view. Point of view examples include the following:

  1. First Person POV (The reader is experiencing it) – “My stomach gurgled hungrily when I smelt the food.”
  2. Second Person POV (Force the reader into the story) – “Your stomach gurgled when you smelt the food.”
  3. Third Person POV (Show different points of view) – “The children smelt the food and their stomach gurgled.”

Sometimes it can be difficult to discern a writer’s point of view in their writing. Bypassing the conversation in favor of the narration and focusing on the pronouns used there, one may determine the point of view most effectively:

  1. First-person: I, me, my, mine, myself, we, our, ours, ourselves
  2. Second person: You, your, yours, yourself

Third person: She, her, hers, herself, he, him, his, himself, they, them, themselves, their, theirs

1st, 2nd, 3rd PersonSubjectObjectPossessiveReflective
generic or 4th persononeoneone’soneself

1. First Person

First (1st) person point of view is the speaker or writer. Humans typically use the first person to discuss themselves, their beliefs, or their experiences. One can read a first-person perspective whenever a writer wishes to convey another person’s life. Every reader of the text gains insight into the character’s life when it is written in the first person.

First-person singular pronouns like I, my, mine, and myself, as well as plural pronouns like we, us, our, and ourselves, are used to indicate the first-person point of view.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood are a few well-known books written in the first person point of view. Writing in the first person puts the reader inside the main character’s thoughts, but because the writer cannot reveal any knowledge that the main character is unaware of, the narrative is made more difficult. A movie seldom uses a first-person viewpoint; instead, it must be what the character sees with his eyes, making the camera a character. This is shown in the movie Blair Witch Project. First-person sentences examples:

  • I never feel alone when my sister visits me.
  • My dog likes to visit the beach.
  • We often visit the mall on weekends.

Where to use first person?

  1. Autobiographies
  2. Journals or diaries
  3. Fiction
  4. Essays
  5. Blogs
  6. Reading records
  7. Song lyrics
  8. Poems
  9. Letters (formal or friendly)

Avoid using the first person in –

  1. Academic work
  2. Instructions

2. Second Person

Second (2nd) person point of view is the person being talked to, whether orally or on the page. It is called the “you perspective. The viewpoint is that of the person or people the narrator is speaking to. You, yourself, your, yours, or yourselves are examples of second-person pronouns that can be used to identify a second-person perspective.

A person typically utilizes a second person point of view while writing an email, letter, or how-to book. Although it’s quite uncommon to write a book in the second person, Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend is a successful example. As the characters on screen would have to be speaking directly to the audience, adding the audience as another character to the drama, the representation of a second person point of view is even more uncommon in film. Examples of sentences in the second person:

  • You go to the farmer’s market on Saturdays.
  • Your shoes need to be polished.
  • Your first action should be to prepare a draft of the main plan.

Where to use second person?



Avoid using the second person in –

Academic writing

3. Third Person

Third (3rd) person point of view refers to the person being spoken about; it does not refer to either you or I. Although his, her, hers, its, they, them, and theirs are all third person pronouns, he, she, and it are the most often used. Nothing surpasses the third-person perspective for the writer who has to communicate many interconnected stories, create psychological distance between the subject and the reader, or maintain objectivity. The third person point of view is most frequently utilised while writing fiction, however third person writing is also the norm for academic articles. Additionally, the majority of quotes and aphorisms are written in the third person.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1984 by George Orwell, and the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling are all well-known novels written in the third person. The third person point of view is used in the majority of movies. Examples of sentences in the third person:

  • She opened her boutique last year and has been successful.
  • He was sad when his grandparents went back.
  • She hurt herself on the stairs.

Limited Third Person 

When the narrator only has partial knowledge of the characters’ experiences and ideas, this is known as a third-person limited point of view. The third-person limited viewpoint frequently denies the narrator access to the ideas and encounters of more than one character.

Omniscient Third person

When the third-person omniscient point of view is used, all of the characters’ experiences and innermost thoughts are revealed to the reader. An omniscient narrator is aware of all of the characters’ thoughts throughout the novel or short story, including those of the main character.In fiction, third person allows a writer to put the reader into the heads of all the characters, explain important plot points, and present information in a seemingly neutral way.

Can third person be used while speaking?

Even though speaking in the third person is uncommon, some people do it. It may be used to great humorous effect or to catch someone’s eye.

Is there a Fourth Person Perspective?

A word for vague or general referents is the fourth person point of view. The word “one” is a frequent example in English, as in “one should know better.” This example refers to a general person.

The third person generic perspective is another name for the fourth person point of view.

How to choose a point of view?

Our writing is a natural vocation and cannot be forced. It is your responsibility as a writer to give considerable thought to the best fitting point of view. If the point of view appears uncomfortable, many writers will go back and revise the piece.

The above paragraph was uncomfortable to read as in only three phrases, that text switched from first person to second person to third person!

When the narrator is an unreliable reporter, the first-person point of view or first-person narrator might deceive the reader into believing what they are saying (great for mysteries, recounted tales, and fictional confessionals).

A simple and direct narrative works best in the second person (for children, recipes, assembly instructions, and the like).

The reader is kept the farthest away from events by a third-person narrator. It is virtually always regarded as a trustworthy, impartial perspective. When writing in the third person, the author can either choose to be omniscient (all-knowing, all present) and switch between the points of view of all the characters, or they can choose to focus on just one character.

Hopefully this article will help the readers to determine how to write in first, second, and third person.

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