Person
Person in the English language determines if someone is speaking, being spoken to, or being spoken about in a sentence, in a story, article, or even essay. In English grammar, there is the first, second, and third person. The usage of the different classifications of person offers unique insight into the point of view of an author in any text.
1st Person
Definition
  • First person is the person speaking about the events in a sentence. Usually the focus is on the speaker(s).
    Examples

    I walked 30 miles to the village.
    (In this sentence the person is talking to someone, the person is telling someone the story, the person is speaking.)
    Having being separated at birth, we talked for hours and hours.
    (In this sentence the person is talking to someone, this person is telling someone their story, the person is speaking.)
    My dog is sick.
    (In this sentence, the person is telling someone, what happened, the person is speaking)
    Disgusted by the cook's coughing we left the restaurant.
    (In this sentence the person is telling the story, the person is speaking, the person is speaking of an event.)

    First Pronouns
    I, we, me, us, my, mine, our, and ours

    Here is an example of first person in a passage from a story entitled Survival at Sea by Ariane Randall;
    My trip to a resort in Haiti began at New York's La Guardia Airport, two weeks after my fourteenth birthday... While waiting around, I met Anna Rivera and Delia Clarke... I had a great time during my week in Haiti, water skiing, snorkeling, swimming, and sun tanning, things I don't get to do much in New York City.
     
  • Re-focusing 1st person to 3rd person
    First  person is not often used in college writing. Students are asked to write about subjects being studied, not themselves.  To keep out of first person, try to focus on the event or noun which is being written about, not the person doing or experiencing the action. Below are some sentences written in the first person, and how to put them (re-focus) to be 3rd person writing.
    EX:
    First person
    I love the food at Big Jim's luncheonette. The Jane, my favorite waitress, gives me extra whipped cream on my pie. I always give her a big tip. (the focus is on the writer- not the topic that should be written about)
    Re-focused to be 3rd person
    Big Jim's has the best food around. Jane, the most poplar waitress, is eager to please by doling out lot of whipped cream on the pie servings, and in return, patrons are happy to give her extra big tips. (the focus is on Big Jim's and Jane -the topic that should be written about)
    First person
    When studying, I find it is best to do it in the morning. I am usually more awake, and my mind is clear and ready to learn.
    (the focus is on the writer- not the topic that should be written about)
    Re-focused to be 3rd person
    Studying is best done in the morning when the mind is more awake, clear, and ready to learn.
     (the focus is on Studying -the topic that should be written about)

2nd Person
Definition

  • Second person is the person being talked (spoken) to.

  • Second person is the reader - NOT the writer!

    Examples

    You walked 30 miles to the village?
    (In this sentence the person is being spoken to by someone else.)
    Because the two of you were separated at birth, you spent hours and hours talking.
    (In this sentence the person is being spoken to by someone else)
    What happened, is your dog sick?
    (In this sentence the person is being spoken to by someone else.)

    Here are more sentences in the second person.
    Wow! Look at how much you have grown.
    When do you go to sleep?
    You did such a good job at painting the house.

    2nd Person Pronoun
    you, your, yours

     

  • Re-focusing 2nd person to 3rd person
    Second person (YOU) is often used incorrectly. To avoid this common and inaccurate error, try to focus n the event or noun of which is being written about, not the person doing or experiencing the action. Below are some sentences that are incorrectly written in the second person , and how to fix (re-focus) the sentence.
    EX:
    inaccurate second person
    To learn how to operate a fork lift, you must first get your operator's license, and then you need to pass a Class A operator's test. (the focus is on the reader- not the topic that should be written about)
    Re-focused to be 3rd person
    An operator's license and passing the Class A operator's test is needed for anyone interested in becoming a  fork lift operator. (the focus is on the operator's license- the topic that should be written about)
    inaccurate second person

    When Larry went to New York, he was very vigilant because you never know when something dangerous can happen.
    (you in this example referees to the reader)
    Re-focused to be 3rd person
    When Larry went to New York, he was very vigilant because it can be dangerous.
    (the focus is on New York)

3rd Person
Definition
Third person also known as the third person objective point of view it is when a person or thing is being talked (spoken) about.
It is everything in the world except the writer or the reader.

Important note
Most college writing is in 3rd person.
  •  As a college student, you will be asked to write about: Literature, Biolology, Psychology, History, etc..........course content.
  • You will most likely not be asked to write about yourself (1st person) or the reader (2nd person)
  •  It is important to understand and be able to write in 3rd person.

    Examples

    She walked 30 miles to the village.
    (The person is being talked about)
    Having been separated at birth, they talked for hours and hours.
    (The people are being talked about)
    Their dog is sick.
    (The animal is being talked about)

    Here are more sentences in the third person.
    He left dinner without a word.
    The scary Lion sat on top of the rocks and roared. (The thing which in this case is the lion, is being spoken about.)
    The old man gave them the tickets.
    With much hesitation they approached the dark house.
    The children ran into the house because their clothes were all soiled.

    All nouns are in the third person;
    cat, dog, school, tree, car, Uncle Ted, Mr. Kennedy, Bob's new car, the little red haired girl in the corner etc......

    Here is an example of third person from a book entitled; Wicked by Gregory Maguire;
    Fred was more concerned for Maria than she knew. He stopped at the first Fisherman's hut he saw and spoke with the man at the half-door. Could a woman or two spend the day and if needed the night with Maria? It would be kindness. Frex nodded with a wince of gratitude, acknowledging without words that Maria was not a great favorite in these parts.

    3rd Person Pronouns
    he, she, it, him her, his, hers, its, they, them, their, and theirs
Mixing Persons & pronouns & how to refocus\fix
  • Stay in one person
    ex: Mixed and improperly used pronouns
    I enjoy an occasional trip to the Queen's Arms pub in Manhattan. They treat you well but because they are often crowded, you need to
    (first person)                                                                                                      (They is plural and cannot be used to replace the Queen's Arms singular)   (2nd person)
     make a reservation if you want to get a table.
                                  
    (2nd person)

    Corrections & refocus to 3rd person
    The Queen's Arms in Manhattan is a very enjoyable yet crowded pub. To get a table, reservation are are often required.