What is first-person point of view? Getting to grips with first person versus third person in writing can be a bit of a challenge. It’s easy to get the two mixed up, but this can be a problem if you’ve been specifically told to write in a certain style. Thankfully, this guide will take you through everything you need to know about writing in the first person, and give you some good examples to help you remember how to use it in your own writing.
First-Person Point of View
What is First-Person Point of View?
The first-person point of view is just a writing style that you’ll usually see in certain types of articles or works of fiction. Essentially first-person writing looks as though it is somebody telling a story to a friend. If you want to get slightly more technical, it’s where an individual narrates something in a style that focuses on them as an individual (first person singular) or them as a group with others (first-person plural). But let’s break that down a little more with some pronoun examples.
OK, let’s take a look at first-person singular first. This is where an individual is writing in a way that expresses their experience as an individual. Here then, you can expect to see “I”, “Me”, “My” and “Mine” as the main pronouns, because they are writing in a way that suggests everything that happened, happened to them. In fiction then, it would be the protagonist (or main character) recounting everything that happened to them. “I” did this, and “I” did that. The author will be writing as though the main character is telling their story.
In non-fiction work such as articles, you might see a journalist expressing their opinion “I” think this, and “I” think that. This journalistic approach is a way of making the reader feel more connected to the article writer, as though they are having a conversation. You’re probably more likely to come across this style of first-person writing on blog posts etc. where creating a relationship with the reader is important.
Now let’s look at first-person plural. This is where an individual is writing in a way that expresses their experience as part of a group. Because they are telling their story in a way that talks about themselves and the others in the group, the pronouns you can expect to see here is “We”, “Us”, “Our” and “Ours”. In fiction, the protagonist might be joined by a friend on their adventure, so it would no longer make sense for them to only talk about themselves. If they had to escape a deadly enemy, saying “I ran away” would leave you wondering what happened to their friend.
So, the author will use “we ran away” because the protagonist is recounting what happened to them and the rest of the group. In non-fiction you’re probably more likely to see this on a company’s about us page. They are talking about themselves as a company – so they are talking about the group. “Here at SoAndSo Company, we believe that…” is an example of how this would work.
The key to remembering what first-person point of view is then, is remembering that a first-person narrative is always told in a way that expresses what happened to them directly, either as an individual (“I”, “Me”, “My”, and “Mine”) or as part of a group (“We”, “Us”, “Our”, and “Ours”).
Examples of Writing in First Person
“I entered the darkened corridor, and instantly my heart started beating faster. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Bravery was my family’s main trait, why wasn’t it mine?” – Here you can see every one of the first person singular pronouns in action. The individual is recounting exactly what happened to them. Remember, if you’re trying to determine if something is written in the first person, look for “I”, “Me”, “My”, and “Mine”.
What would happen if the protagonist wasn’t alone? Say they were recounting what happened to them and their sister. It would probably end up looking something like this:
“We entered the darkened corridor, and instantly our hearts started beating faster. We couldn’t believe this was happening to us. Bravery was our family’s main trait, why wasn’t it ours?” – Again, you can see every one of the first person plural pronouns in action. Now the individual is recounting exactly what happened to them and their sister. So, you have to use first-person plural pronouns. Look for “We”, “Us”, “Our”, and “Ours”.
Hopefully, this guide has been of some help, and given you some ideas about how you might write in the first person and spot when others have done so too!