Points of View

Contributor: Anna Ledezma. Lesson ID: 13021

What’s your style? Do you wear pink polka dots in summer or tight skinny jeans? Just as in life, there are different ways of “styling” your writing. Discover the point of view that suits your style!

categories

Writing

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Visual
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Have you ever dreamed of being a writer? Maybe becoming the next J.K. Rowling with your inspiring work? But where do you start? One great place is to decide what point of view is your favorite. We know you always prefer your own point of view, but points of view in writing have a different meaning. Time to find out more!

Ready to learn about points of view?

First, read the sentences below and discover if you can identify any differences among them:

  1. I trudged through the thick snow while lugging my heavy book bag.
  2. You could have easily hit me with a well-aimed snow ball.
  3. Johnny always loved writing.
  • When reading the sentences above, were you able to identify any differences among them?
  • Did you notice that each sentence starts with a different perspective?

Sentence Number 1 started with "I," Sentence Number 2 started with "You," and Sentence 3 started with the name, "Johnny."

When thinking about points of view, my favorite way of remembering them is by memorizing them in that order:

  • First person = I
  • Second person = you
  • Third person = he, she, or them

Before you write, you have to determine which point of view you prefer using. Take a look at what makes each one so unique!

point of view

First-person point of view

You can generally identify first-person narrative from the use of the pronouns, "I," "me," "my," "mine," and "myself." The use of first person is an outstanding way of getting an inside look at one character’s perspective. You get to see what one character sees, feels, tastes, smells, and senses. It’s like you get to live their life! Sentence Number 1 is a perfect example of first-person narrative:

  1. I trudged through the thick snow while lugging my heavy book bag.

Famous authors, such as Charlotte Bronte and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, used first-person narratives to create many of their famous works. Check out the paragraph below, which is taken from Charlotte Brontë’s famous work, Jane Eyre!

“I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.”

Second-person point of view

Second person is not as widely used as first and third, but it does have its own special flair that makes it unique. Often, when an author chooses to write in second person, it is to immerse the reader in the story by giving them the experience of “being” the protagonist. You can generally identify second person when you spot the pronouns, "you," "your," and "yours." Sentence Number 2 is a great example of second-person point of view:

  1. You could have easily hit me with a well-aimed snow ball.

Second person is not as common in stories, though some authors have been able to pull it off. One popular author, named Nathaniel Hawthorne, wrote a short story called The Haunted Mind. It's a great example of second-person point of view! Check out the excerpt below!

“What a singular moment is the first one, when you have hardly begun to recollect yourself, after starting from midnight slumber! By unclosing your eyes so suddenly … you find yourself, for a single instant, wide awake in that realm of illusions ... ”

Third person point of view

You can recognize third-person point of view when you identify the pronouns, "he," "she," "it," "they," "him," "hers," "them," "their," and "his." Third person is commonly used when you want to see many different perspectives of a story. For instance, say you want to write a story with five main characters. That’s a lot of main characters! So, your best option would be to use third-person narrative. You could be the narrator, and describe the lives and circumstances of the five characters. Just as in Sentence Number 3:

  1. Johnny always loved writing.

The writer is telling us something about Johnny; something we wouldn’t know about him without the author's help. It is a way that the author can be described as “all-knowing.”

One famous author who liked to use third-person point of view was Charles Dickens. Check out the excerpt below from his famous work, Our Mutual Friend:

“The figures in this boat were those of a strong man with ragged grizzled hair and a sun-browned face, and a dark girl of nineteen or twenty, sufficiently like him to be recognizable as his daughter. The girl rowed, pulling a pair of sculls very easily; the man, with the rudder-lines slack in his hands, and his hands loose in his waistband, kept an eager look out.”

  • How do you feel about points of view?

Test your knowledge in the Got It? section with a quick quiz!

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