Writing in third person is writing from the third-person point of view, or outsider looking in, and uses pronouns like he, she, it, or they. It differs from the first person, which uses pronouns such as I and me, and from the second person, which uses pronouns such as you and yours.
Writing in the third-person provides flexibility and objectivity. In fiction writing it enables the narrator to be all-knowing. The personal pronouns used in third-person writing are he, she, it, they, him, her, them, his, her, hers, its, their, and theirs.
Third Person Writing in Literature
- "He is just what a young man ought to be," said she, "sensible, good humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners!—so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!" - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
- “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” - George Orwell, 1984
- “Their commander was a middle-aged corporal—red-eyed, scrawny, tough as dried beef, sick of war. He had been wounded four times—and patched up, and sent back to war.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
- “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets.” - Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford
"He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train. He went out through the bead curtain. She was sitting at the table and smiled at him." - Ernest Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants"
- “She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes”
- Lord Byron, "She Walks in Beauty"
Third Person Writing in Advertising
- Plop Plop Fizz Fizz. Oh, what a relief it is - Alka-Seltzer
- The King of Beers - Budweiser
- It's the real thing - Coca-Cola
- A diamond is forever - De Beers
- The happiest place on earth - Disneyland
- It keeps going and going and going - Energizer
- When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight - FedEx
- The Possibilities are Infinite - Fujitsu
- The best a man can get - Gillette
- It wouldn't be home without Hellmann's - Hellman's
- It's finger lickin' good - KFC
- Nobody can do it like McDonald's can - McDonald's
- Good to the last drop - Maxwell House
- Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline - Maybelline
- The greatest tragedy is indifference - Red Cross
- Takes a licking and keeps on ticking - Timex
Third Person Writing in Famous Quotes
- “A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” - Oscar Wilde
- “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” - Winston Churchill
- “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” - Albert Einstein
- “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” - Helen Keller
- “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” - Victor Hugo
- “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” - Henry Ford
- “Family is not an important thing. It's everything.” - Michael J. Fox
- “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
- “A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” - Lou Holtz
An Objective Point of View
These examples illustrate the different ways to write in the third person and which pronouns to use. The first person point of view might read "I never make mistakes so I never learn." The second person would read "You never make mistakes so you never learn." See how this differs from the third person, which would read "He never makes mistakes so he never learns" and is much more objective.
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Examples of Writing in Third Person
By YourDictionaryWriting in third person is writing from the third-person point of view, or outsider looking in, and uses pronouns like he, she, it, or they. It differs from the first person, which uses pronouns such as I and me, and from the second person, which uses pronouns such as you and yours.
A personal narrative is a story about an important incident or experience that has taken place in a person’s life. The author shares the experience, thoughts, emotions and sometimes the lessons learned or knowledge gained during the course of the events.
To plan a narrative, decide on the story, recall or construct the setting, facts or events, the people and the emotions involved in the incident or event. A fictional story may draw on emotions from one’s own life injected into similar imagined events to give the narrative authenticity. Making a diagram or notes may help you plan your story.
Narratives are usually written in either the first (‘I’, ‘we’) or third (‘he/she’, ‘they’) person, far less often in second person (‘you’). Third person narratives can sound more formal than those written in the first person. They allow a distance from the main characters not possible when the person involved is telling the story in their own voice. It also gives authors more flexibility, allowing them to change point of view to another character without confusing the reader.
Planning a 3rd person narrative:
- Decide on an incident or experience as a focal point of the story
- Who will be the narrator? Do they have a bias or point of view, or are they objective?
- Who is the main character? You may need an additional one or two other characters.
- Setting – Where does the story take place?
- Decide on a plot structure. What are the main events, points along the way, the climax of the story, and its resolution? You may need to brainstorm and/or plot what happens on a graph to keep your story on track.
Structure of 3rd Person Narrative
A narrative text usually contains the following three parts:
- Orientation – start in the middle of the action, involving the main character from the start.
- Complication – where conflict, tension or a problem is created.
- Resolution – the problem is resolved, sometimes with a twist.
- 3rd person ‘he’, ‘she’, as though the narrator is watching the event take place.
- Language will suit both the characters and the setting (time and place).
- Use language conventions – sentence and paragraph structure, speech marks etc.
- Your narrative will include action, description, realistic dialogue and reflection (without preaching).
- Use variety in your writing style: a mixture of short and long sentences, hard-hitting action sequences and longer poetic descriptions, short snatches of dialogue and longer paragraphs which create atmosphere and suspense.
- Show don’t tell! Try not to state the obvious; use finesse.
Brainstorm, draft, (if you get stuck, start from whichever point you can), write, let your writing sit a day or two, read aloud to yourself several times, check all of the points above, rewrite.
These websites give you more advice about writing a personal narrative in third person voice:
Personal Narrative Writing
Take note of these helpful hints from great writers:
Here is an example of a narrative of a personal incident written in 3rd person voice.
For the length of narratives written at school and for the QCST, it is recommended that the action of the story happens within no more than a ten minute time frame.
Adapted from an original piece by Loretta D.