First Person vs. Third Person

When you read a book— who is telling the story? Is your narrator a character in the story or some unknown person? Does the narrator know the feelings and thoughts of all characters? Just one? None? All these questions can be answered by knowing the point of view! So let’s take a look at the difference between first person vs. third person points of view and when they are used!

What Is First Person Point Of View?

First person point of view means that the narrator is telling a story from their perspective. The easiest way to tell if something is written from a first person point of view is the pronoun “I.” For example the sentence, “I am writing about the difference between first person point of view and third person point of view,”  is written in first person. Understanding this is the most important rule in identifying first person vs. third person point of view.

Writing from the first person point of view is common in books that are written in the style of a diary, like “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.”  Other examples of books written in first person are “The Hunger Games” and “The Perks of Being A Wallflower.”

Why Is First Person Point Of View Used?

First person narration can be a pretty compelling point of view to use if you want a close connection between your reader and narrator. With a first person point of view, you quickly feel like you know the narrator— like they are a close friend or that you are actually in their head! What they like, what they don’t, their opinions— you get an inside look that you normally don’t see from people other than yourself or your close circle.

What Is Third Person Point Of View?

In third person point of view, the narrator isn’t a character in the story— they are just telling the story of the characters! There are actually quite a few different types of third person points of view including omniscient, limited and objective. This is another important difference between first person vs. third person point of view.

What Is Third Person Omniscient?

An example of omniscient third person is the book “Lord Of The Flies.” In “Lord of the Flies,” the narrator isn’t part of the story but they know all the characters’ thoughts, feelings, observations and opinions! For example, when the narrator says, “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy,” the narrator is not Ralph but the narrator does know why Ralph is crying without having to ask him.

What Is Third Person Limited Omniscient?

Third person limited omniscient means the reader only know the thoughts, feelings, observations and opinions of one character— not every character! The Harry Potter books are written in limited omniscient third person. In these books you only know the thoughts, feelings, observations and opinions of Harry — not Hermoine, Ron and all the other chara

What Is Third Person Objective?

In third person omniscient, the narrator knows everyone’s thoughts. In third person omniscient limited, the narrator knows one person’s thoughts. In third person objective… the narrator doesn’t know anyone’s thoughts! This perspective is like when you tell your friend about something that happened to someone else like, “did you hear that Suzy skipped two days of class?” You don’t now why Suzy skipped class or what she is feeling— just what happened. In writing, third person objective can make you feel like you are a fly on the wall in a situation! It’s commonly used for biographies and in news writing.

Why Is Third Person Point Of View Used?

Each type of third person point of view has its own benefits! The benefit of using third person omniscient point of view vs. first person is that the reader can gain a deeper understanding of each character! Third person limited omniscient can feel similar to a first person narrative but is generally a bit more objective (less opinionated) than writing in first person. Third person objective adds credibility to the narrator and feels the least opinionated of all (that’s why it’s a good choice for news and biographies!).