Puzzled with the use of types of person in grammar? Check out information in the following article.

Types Of Person In Grammar

There are three types of person in grammar viz., first person, second person and third person. Personal pronouns such as “I, you, we, he, she, they” are the ones that depict which person is the subject of the conversation. Each type of person presents a different perspective of describing a situation. First person comprises of pronouns I and we and narrates the incident from speaker’s point of view; second person is directed at the audience and involves the use of pronoun “you”; and third person includes pronouns such as they, he, she, their, it, etc to narrate a situation in which the speaker is not involved. Often people make mistakes while writing a sentence or paragraph. For example, some people begin by writing in first person and suddenly change the course of sentence by using a second person and end up with third person. It is important to maintain consistency of person in a sentence. There may be usage of many pronouns in a sentence but the statement must have the same underlying point of view in terms of person. Confused? Read on for clarification.
Given below are three types of person in grammar. Each type conveys a different viewpoint and has subjective, objective, possessive, singular and plural forms.
First Person
  • In grammatical terms, first person represents the perspective of narrator or the party that comprises the narrator. Personal pronouns such as I, we, me, our, mine and us etc. are used in first person.  
  • The singular form of first person is ‘I’ while the plural form is ‘we’. These forms are used as subjects in sentences and hence are called the subjective case pronouns. These pronouns are used to express a situation from one’s own viewpoint. For example: “I see beauty in nature” or “We love nature”.
  • In some cases, a sentence can be structured using both ‘I’ and ‘we’. For example: “I am eagerly waiting for my monthly book club meeting. We are currently reading ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ by Kiran Desai.”
  • In the above sentence, ‘I’ is first-person singular talking about the speaker and ‘we’ is the first-person plural which is used as a pronoun for the book-club that the speaker is part of.
  • The objective case of first person is ‘me’ and ‘us’. For example: “She doesn’t like me”.
  • The possessive case of first person is my, mine, our. For example: “This is my book” or “This book is mine” or “This books is ours
  • In literature, First person is often referred to as a narrator. In an autobiographical writing, a writer narrates a story in first person. 
Second Person
  • Second person represents the audience which the speaker is addressing. ‘You’ and ‘your’ are the pronouns used as second person. Pronoun ‘you’ is used to address single person or a group of persons i.e., it is used both in singular and plural forms.
  • The pronoun ‘you’ can be used in singular form to communicate to a single person. For example, “Mother, before you head for Milan city, please remember to read the checklist of stationery shopping I have kept on the table. Love, yours Rose.”
  • The same pronoun ‘you’ can be used in plural form to communicate with a group of people. For example, “Team, you need to be prepared for the next set of projects that are coming up in few weeks.”
  • Second person ‘you’ represents subjective case if it is used as a subject in a sentence. ‘You’ can be used in objective case as well. Possessive case of second person is ‘your’ or ‘yours’. For example “You should exercise your rights as Indian citizens and vote in the next year's election”. Here, ‘you’ represents subjective case while ‘yours’ represents the possessive case. In the sentence “I gave it to you”, the second person ‘you’ is used in objective case.
  • In literary writing, second person may refer to the reader/audience or the central character.
  • Second person is considered appropriate for presentations, technical writing, business letters and email communication. 
Third person
  • Third person represents everybody else except the ones mentioned under first and second person. Third person can be a human being, an animal, a thing or just something abstract. Pronouns like he, she, it, they and there are used to denote third person.
  • ‘He’, ‘she’ and ‘it’ are used as singular forms. For example, “He helped the poor man”.
  • ‘They’ and ‘their’ are used as plural forms. For example, “They are backpackers from neighboring countries”.
  • Third person ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’ and ‘it’ are subjective cases as they act as subjects in sentences. The objective case of third person can be ‘him’, ‘her’, ‘them’ or ‘it’ while possessive case would include ‘his’, ‘her’, ‘their’ or ‘its’.
  • Third person is very commonly used in fiction writing and academic writing. It represents neither the speaker nor the reader; it refers to someone else. The narrator uses ‘she’, ‘he’, ‘they’ or ‘it’ to indicate the character or recount incidence or story. For example, “There was a girl named Alicia in my class. She stood first every year.”
  • There are three types of third person: third-person objective, where the speaker recounts the story as a neutral observer; third-person omniscient, where the speaker reports and interprets events as all knowing; and third-person limited, where the speaker recounts story or incident from the point of view of a single character.  
To sum up, first person puts forth speaker’s point of view and involves the use of pronoun ‘I’ or ‘we’, whereas second person represents reader/audience and involves the use of pronoun ‘you’. Third person is presented from detached speaker’s view and involves the use of pronouns like ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘they’ and ‘their’, which narrate a character or situation that doesn’t involve either the first or the second person.

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