What Is the Third Person Point of View in Writing?

The third-person point of view is one of several types of Point-of-View (POV) commonly used in fiction. It refers to a story told from the perspective of an outside observer rather than by a character within the report.

The third-person point of view is prevalent in novels and is used in most published works.

Remember, the first person point of view is when the story is told from the perspective of “I” (e.g., “I felt sad when I read that book”).

The second person point of view is when the story is told from the perspective of “you” (e.g., “You pissed me off when you threw my favorite book in the fire”).

The first and second-person point of view is sometimes used in fiction, but they’re not as common as the third person.

The third-person point of view is when the story is told from a more distant, objective perspective. It’s not “I” or “you,” but “he,” “she,” “they,” and “it.” The third-person point of view can be either limited or omniscient.

What Is the Third Person Point of View in Writing?
What Is the Third Person Point of View in Writing?

What Is Limited Third Person Point of View?

Limited third-person point of view means the reader is only privy to what a single character thinks and feels. The narrator reveals only what the point-of-view character can sense, know, or observe.

The narration focuses on one character at a time, showing what they can see, hear, think, and feel.

Limited third-person point of view can be either objective or subjective.

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What Is Objective Limited Third Person Point of View?

Objective limited third-person point of view means the narrator tells the story as if an outside observer is watching it happen.

The events are observed dispassionately, without judgment or comment.

From a limited objective point of view, the narrator is not a character in the story and is never addressed with “you,” “we,” “us,” or any other term that suggests the narrator is part of the story.

Examples of Objective Limited Third Person Point of View:

“He was a big man, tall and broad, with a neck like the trunk of an oak.”

In this example from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, the narrator watches an old man-fish. The narrator doesn’t know anything about the character beyond his appearance and actions.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

In George Orwell’s 1984, the narrator is a third-person observer who does not know the characters well. The narrator is never part of the story and remains an objective, impartial observer.

What Is the Third Person Point of View in Writing?
What Is the Third Person Point of View in Writing?

What Is Subjective Limited Third Person Point of View?

Subjective, limited third-person point of view means the reader is inside a single character’s head. The narrator reveals what the point-of-view character thinks and feels about the events in the story.

The narration focuses on one character at a time, showing only what they can sense, know, or observe.

The audience isn’t privy to the thoughts and feelings of other characters and may or may not be aware of the thoughts and feelings of any other characters.

In a subjective, limited third-person point of view, the narrator is not a character in the story and is never addressed with “you,” “we,” “us,” or any other term that suggests the narrator is part of the story.

Subjective, limited third-person point of view can be either objective or subjective.

What Is Objective Subjective Third Person Point of View?

Objective, subjective third-person point of view means the narrator tells the story as if an outside observer is watching it happen.

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The events are observed dispassionately, without judgment or comment.

From an objective, subjective point of view, the narrator is not a character in the story and is never addressed with “you,” “we,” “us,” or any other term that suggests the narrator is part of the story.

Examples of Objective Subjective Third Person Point of View:

“The boy stood up in the boat, his legs wide apart for balance, and threw.”

In Ernest Hemingway‘s The Old Man and the Sea, an objective, subjective point of view allows the reader to see the action but not know what the boy is thinking or feeling.

“The plane roared down the runway, faster and faster.”

In this example from a story about a pilot afraid of flying, an objective, subjective third-person point of view allows the reader to see the action but not know what the pilot is thinking or feeling.

What Is Subjective Objective Third Person Point of View?

Subjective, objective third-person point of view means the reader is inside a single character’s head. The narrator reveals what the point-of-view character thinks and feels about the events in the story.

The narration focuses on one character at a time, showing only what they can sense, know, or observe.

From a subjective-objective point of view, the narrator is not a character in the story and is never addressed with “you,” “we,” “us,” or any other term that suggests the narrator is part of the story.

The subjective, objective point of view can be either objective or subjective.

“I loved that car. I loved that car more than any car I’ve ever had, although it was just a stupid little Honda Civic. So what if it was old, so what if it rattled when I drove over sixty miles an hour? It was my car.”

In this example from Judy Blume’s Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself, the reader is inside Sally’s head and only aware of her thoughts and feelings. The narrator is not a character in the story and is never addressed with “you,” “we,” or any other term that suggests the narrator is part of the story.

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Subjective Objective Third Person Point of View: Examples

“I’m glad we’re here,” said Lisa. She and her father and mother were standing on a street corner in Chicago. A cold wind was blowing.

In this example from Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle, the reader is inside Lisa’s head and only aware of her thoughts and feelings. The narrator is not a character in the story and is never addressed with “you,” “we,” or any other term that suggests the narrator is part of the story.

“I’m so glad I came with you, Mommy,” said Billy. He was standing by the big old stove in the kitchen of his grandmother’s house.

In this example from Karen Ackerman’s The Hundred Penny Box, the reader is inside Billy’s head and only aware of his thoughts and feelings. The narrator is not a character in the story and is never addressed with “you,” “we,” or any other term that suggests the narrator is part of the story.

What are the benefits of writing in third person?

1. It can make your writing sound more professional.

2. It can help you to distance yourself from your work and see it more objectively

3. It can be a valuable tool for exploring different aspects of your personality or character

4. It can add an extra layer of mystery or intrigue to your writing

5. It can be used to create suspense or tension in a story

6. It can make your writing more lyrical and poetic

7. It can make your writing seem more objective and less biased.

8. It can make it easier for you to jump between character

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