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
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.
Examples of Writing in Third Person
- Could You Pass a Basic English Grammar Test?
- Noun Worksheets
- Pronoun Worksheets
- Free Pronoun Worksheets
- Indefinite Pronoun Worksheets
- Possessive Pronoun Worksheets
- How Do I Include Transition Words in My Essay?
- Compare the Chicago Manual of Style and the GPO Style Manual
- Transitional Word Lists for Students
- Examples of Writing in First Person
- Examples of Writing in Second Person
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How to write in an academic style.
HEAT Stage 5: Writing your assignment.
- Writing your assignment .
- Structuring an introduction, a paragraph and a conclusion .
- Signposting sentences .
- The ‘idea into sentence’ chart .
- How to write in an academic style.
- How to summarise, paraphrase and use direct quotations .
- Using and developing new vocabulary .
- Tips for when you don’t want to write .
5.5 How to write in an academic style
1. Create an objective, confident voice
Use the third person (this means not using ‘I’)
Most of the time you will be expected to use the third person as it enables you to show that you are being objective.
You could try using:
- This essay discusses the importance of …
- This research shows that …
- It could be said that …
Consider your use of tenses
You need to be clear about whether you are discussing something that happened in the past or something that is having an impact upon the present.
The present tense:
- Smith’s argument illustrates that …
- Freud’s theory supports the view that…
The past tense:
- The Industrial Revolution had an impact upon society in a number of different ways.
- The interviews were conducted with a group of parents in the Leicestershire area.
2. Use appropriate language for your audience and purpose
Academic writing need not be complicated, but it does need to have an element of formality. Your choice of words for an academic assignment should be more considered and careful.
- Rather than; ‘don’t’, ‘can’t’, ‘it’s’, ‘should’ve’,
You could try: ‘do not’, ‘cannot’, ‘it is’, ‘should have’
Use the full forms of words
- Rather than: ‘TV’, ‘memo’, or ‘quote’ You could try: ‘television’, ‘memorandum’ or ‘quotation’
Avoid using informal words
- Rather than: Smith’s bit of research is ok.
You could try: Smith’s research is
significant because …
- Rather than using words such as: ‘get’, ‘got’ or ‘a lot’
You could try: ‘obtain’, ‘obtained’ or ‘many’
3. Be clear and concise
Keep words simple:
- Rather than: The denotation was obfuscated by the orator.
You could try: The meaning was hidden by the speaker.
Aim for the right word for the right occasion:
- Example 1: Crusade against crime
- Example 2: Campaign against crime
The word ‘crusade’ has connotations of a battle and is more aggressive in tone than the word ‘campaign’. ‘Campaign’ implies a more considered approach
Make every word count:
- Rather than: The theorist called Sigmund Freud wrote a significant piece of work called On Narcissism which offers valuable insights into …
You could try: Freud (1914) offers valuable insights into …
Avoid any vague words or phrases:
- Ensure that your reader knows who or what you are referring to when you use words such as: ‘it’, ‘them’, ‘they’.
- Words such as ‘people’ and ‘ideas’ have the potential to be vague. So, avoid saying: ‘according to many people’. Ensure that you explain which people or which ideas.
- When talking about events that have happened in the past, avoid phrases such as: ‘in the past’ or ‘in recent times’. You need to be specific.
Avoid using clichéd phrases:
- A cliché is a phrase or expression that is overused to such an extent that it losess its value. For example, ‘as bright as a button’ or as ‘clear as mud’.
4. Use language sensitively
Avoid expressing strong opinions too directly Academic writing is concerned with presenting your discussion in an objective way, so there is no need to assert your opinions too strongly
- Rather than: Smith has an extremely important point to make because
You could try: Smith’s view is significant because …
- So avoid words like: ‘very’, ‘really’, ‘quite’ and ‘extremely’.
Lean towards caution
We need to be aware that our views are contributing to a much wider debate surrounding your given topic. Your use of language must show that we you making suggestions which contribute to this wider discussion:
- Rather than: ‘This view is correct because …’
- You could try: ‘It could be said that …’, ‘It appears that …’, ‘It seems that …’
Avoid using taboo language
- In academic writing it is important not to offend your reader – you want her/him to trust your judgment and authority. Using swear words or making offensive comments will upset the balance of your writing and undermine your point of view.
Do not stereotype, generalise or make assumptions
- This especially applies to individuals or groups on the basis of their gender, race, nationality, religion, physical and mental capacity, age, sexuality, marital status, or political beliefs.
Your use of language should always remain neutral.
- Rather than: fireman or policeman
Try using: fire fighter or police officer
- Rather than: mankind
Try using: humankind
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