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Third Person


θɜːd ˈpɜːsn



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Beyond 'Me' and 'You': The Third Person Odyssey

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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Among the three ‘persons’ used in English grammar to refer to nouns, pronouns and verbs in a sentence, the ‘third person’ is used to talk about someone or something that is not a part of the conversation and is being discussed by keeping it outside the conversation. When you want to tell someone about something that happened to you or about someone that did something to you, you use third-person pronouns.

What is the third person?

Third person pronoun, or simply the third person is a set of pronouns used for entities apart from the sender and the receiver of any conversation. The third-person pronoun can be most appropriately defined as something or someone that is being talked about. Some common third-person pronouns are he, she, it, they, and them. While the first person is used by the speaker f the conversation (i, we, us) and the second person is used for the receiver of the conversation (you), the third person is used for the topic of the conversation. 

Significance of the third person in communication and writing: 

  • The third person can be useful in formal and academic writing as it provides a sense of impartiality to the tone of the conversation by making the subject the centre of focus and not the speaker or the listener. 

  • Third person pronoun can come in handy when writing fiction as it allows the writer to write from an outsider’s point of view, lending a broader perspective to events, characters and settings. 

  • The third person can lend clarity to a text, especially when multiple entities are involved by dismissing confusion about who or what is being talked about in a conversation. 

Understanding Third person pronouns

Third-person pronouns are used to refer to entities outside of a conversation. They provide spontaneity and smoothness to a conversation by allowing people n the conversation to refer to people, places, animals or things without having to explicitly use their names repeatedly. Here are some examples of how you can use third-person pronouns in sentences:

  • I met Rita yesterday. She looked a bit pale. 
  • Kenny invited me to his house party but I told him I couldn’t attend.
  • Have you seen my purse? I think I kept it over here.  
  • I think they are going to stay the night. 
  • Didn’t you tell them that the party is over?

Exploring Third person language

The third person pronoun is specifically used for referring to people outside the scope of a conversation and differs from the first and second person in unique ways. For example: 

  • First Person: Using first-person pronouns, the speaker refers to themselves or the group they belong to. The first-person perspective puts the limelight on the speaker of the conversation and their experiences and attitudes. Common first-person pronouns: I, we, us. 

  • Second Person: Using second-person pronouns, the speaker refers to the person or group they’re talking to. It addresses the reader or the listener directly and can be used in giving instructions, advice and suggestions. Common second person pronoun: you. 

  • Third person: Using third-person pronouns, the speaker refers to things and entities that are not a part of the conversation. Third-person pronouns provide an objective view of looking at things and are commonly found in academic and formal writings and fictional stories. Common third-person pronouns: He, she, it, they, them. 

Advantages and purposes of using the third person in various contexts: 

The third person can provide many advantages to your writing. For example:

  • The third person allows the writer to keep an objective and impartial tone in academic and official writings. 

  • The third-person pronoun helps avoid confusion and provides clarity when there is more than one entity present outside the conversation. 

  • A third-person pronoun is used in storytelling to enable readers to view characters from an outsider’s point of view. 

Some other purposes of third-person pronouns besides referring to people outside the conversation include:

  • In certain official contexts, the third person is also used to extend respect and formality to higher authorities. 

  • The third person can be used to hide the identity of entities where confidentiality is needed. 

Writing in the third person: Style and Perspective

Writing in the third person requires you to remember certain guidelines to use the third person correctly and efficiently. Such guidelines are explained below:

How to write in the third person perspective:

  • Decide on a narrative mood and choose whether you want to write in the third person omniscient (which knows and sees everything happening in a story and knows about the inner thoughts of all the characters) or third person limited (which knows the in-depth thoughts of only one character in the story and tells the story from his point of view). 

  • Use third-person pronouns consistently throughout your piece of writing to provide an outsider’s perspective. 

  • Maintain an impartial and objective tone and avoid including personal opinions and perspectives.

  • Use vivid language and descriptive imagery to show what’s happening in the story rather than just plainly stating it.

Techniques for maintaining consistency and clarity in third-person writing:

  • If you choose to write in the third person limited, stick to that particular character’s point of view and avoid jumping or ‘head-hopping’ to other characters’ minds to avoid confusion. 

  • Avoid certain shifts in tone and voice and maintain a particular narrative voice throughout the text. 

  • Introduce character names early on in the text and use them consistently throughout the text to make sure that the third-person pronouns have clear antecedents they’re referring to. 

How to write in the third person: Tips and Guidelines

Writing in the third person can be a useful tool in storytelling as well as formal writing. Here’s how to use them effectively:

Step-by-step guide on writing effectively in the third person:

  • Choose the type of third-person narrator (omniscient or limited) and stick to it throughout the text. 
  • Be objective and impartial. 
  • Substitute first and second-person pronouns with third-person pronouns.
  • Use descriptive language and dialogues creatively. 
  •  Maintain consistent tense throughout the text. 

Common challenges and how to overcome them:

Here is a list of common mistakes that you should avoid while writing in third person pronouns and tips on avoiding them:

  • Provide clarity about what nouns the third-person pronouns are referring to.  Use character names to avoid confusion. 
  • Writing in the third person can sometimes create emotional distances between the characters and readers. Overcome this by showing characters’ emotions through actions, dialogues, expressions, etc. 
  • To avoid confusion and ambiguity, give each character a distinctive voice and pattern of behaviour. 

Crafting a third-person narrative

The third-person narrative is a writing technique where the story is told from a character’s point of view or an all-knowing point of view of an invisible narrator. Understanding the third-person narrative is crucial to effective storytelling.  

Understanding third person narrative and its role in storytelling:

  • The third-person narrative provides an objective and impartial viewpoint. 
  • The third-person narrative allows multiple perspectives into the story. 
  • The third-person narrative allows the author to move between characters and scenes smoothly. 

Examples of well-known literary works that use the third-person narrative:

  • ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee: This classic American novel is a story seen through the third person limited point of view of Scout Finch. 
  • ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen: The novel is told from the third person omniscient point of view about the Bennet sister. 

‘Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling uses a third-person limited point of view, focussing on Harry.

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Key Takeaways

  1. Third-person pronouns such as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘they’, and ‘them’ refer to people outside the scope of the conversation. 

  2. The third-person narrative provides impartiality to the text. 

  3. A third-person perspective is used to tell a story from one character’s point of view or an all-knowing point of view.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some examples of sentences in the third person?

Some examples of sentences in the third person are: He kicked the ball; She ate her food; They will be coming early; It is kept on the table. 

How do I write in the third person perspective?

To write in the third person perspective, choose a type of third-person narrator and then stick to it throughout and avoid confusion by introducing the names of the characters beforehand and consistently throughout the text.

Can you provide tips for writing a third-person narrative?

To write a third-person narrative, remain consistent with your chosen point of view, use creative dialogues and vivid action to describe the characters’ emotions.

Is the third person used in academic writing?

Yes, the third person is used in academic writing to sound objective and impartial and focus on the subject of the text.

How does using third-person pronouns affect the tone of a text?

Third-person pronouns add a touch of impartiality to the text end also extend a sense of respect and reverence.

Are there any common mistakes to avoid when writing in the third person?

Some common mistakes to avoid while writing in the third person are pronoun confusion, inconsistent point of view and lack of character depth.

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