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First and Third Person Point of View Explained

written by: Lady Lit • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 9/11/2012

Article provides an explanation of point of view

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    Introduction

    After teaching first and third person point of view the wrong way, I quickly learned the most effective way to teach first and third person point of view isrelating it to students by breaking it down at their level.

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    First Person Point of View

    There are two points of view, first and third person, that are applicable to literature. A story told from the first person point of view involves the narrator as part of the story, and usually features the following pronouns: I, me, mine, our, we, us, etc.

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    Third Person Point of View

    Third person point of view is told by a narrator who is not part of the story and generally uses pronouns such as: he, she, it, they, them, him, her, its, etc. There are three type of third person narration: objective, omniscient, and limited.

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    Third Person Objective

    Third person objective point of view occurs when a story is told by a narrator who is not part of the story. In this type of story, the actions that occur are observable through the senses, just as the action is at a baseball game. Use a mnemonic to help students remember. Tell students to relate the “b” in objective to the “b” in baseball. Remind them there are three strikes in baseball to help them with third person.

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    Third Person Omniscient

    Remind students that “omniscient” means all-knowing. If a person is all-knowing, he or she knows the thoughts and feelings of everybody. Third person omniscient occurs when a story is told by a narrator who is not part of the story but knows the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in the story. In other words, a third person omniscient narrator is inside the hearts and heads of the characters, exposing their thoughts and/or feelings. I tell students to think of this point of view as the magazines (National Enquirer, etc) at grocery story check out lines, and students get it. After all, these magazines know who is thinking about getting married/divorced/starting a family, even though most people who buy and read them have no lives of their own.

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    Third Person Limited

    Explain to students that third person limited is similar to the omniscient point of view, but it is a limited viewpoint. The narrator only knows the thoughts and feelings of one character.