8 junio, 2024

Writing in the third person: characteristics and examples

It is known as third person writing to texts written by a narrator who is not involved in what he writes. That is, the narrator is oblivious to the facts. For this reason he tells them from the point of view of the exterior of the events.

It is used for different reasons depending on the interest of the writer. In literature and narrative it works to create an atmosphere in which the narrator knows everything.

In journalism it is almost mandatory to use it, because it shows that the facts reported are objective. For its part, in academic texts it works to give veracity to what is said.

third person paragraph example

1- Writing academic texts

excerpt from the text Human rights. An essay on its history, its foundation and its realityby José Martínez de Pison

“Few issues have been more debated in recent times than the correct use of the term ‘human rights’. However, few are more used in normal speech, in conversations, in international forums and seminars with a more precise meaning.

In all probability, any citizen who lives in societies belonging to the Western cultural tradition knows exactly what is meant when referring to human rights.

2- Witness narrator

With this narrator the only inclusion in the text is as an observer. That is, he is a character in the story who narrates what he observes or what was told to him.

Your work does not change history, it may not even be taken into account. Since he only knows what he sees or what he is told, he is a storyteller with limited information.

in his novel Cold-blooded Truman Capote writes from the perspective of a witness narrator

“All the materials in this book that are not derived from my own observations have been taken from official files or are the result of interviews with people directly affected; interviews that very often spanned a considerable period of time.

3- Omniscient narrator

In the following text, the narrator is a third person who is not involved in the events he narrates.

His identity and the source of his knowledge are unknown, though he seems to know everything, including what the characters remember. This is the so-called omniscient narrator.

opening paragraph of one hundred years of solitudeby Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez

“Many years later, facing the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía would remember that remote afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

Macondo was then a village of 20 houses made of mud and reeds, built on the banks of a river with clear waters, which rushed over a bed of white, polished and enormous stones, like prehistoric eggs”.

4- Equiscient narrator

The equiscient narrator is the one who tells the facts in the third person but who, unlike the omniscient, has limited knowledge. In other words, he does not know everything, but only what the reader himself knows.

excerpt from the story Night backsby Julio Cortazar

“Halfway down the long hallway of the hotel, he thought it must be late and he hurried out into the street and took the motorcycle out of the corner where the doorman next door allowed him to keep it.

In the jewelry store on the corner he saw that it was ten to nine; she would arrive in plenty of time where she was going. The sun filtered through the tall downtown buildings, and he—because to himself, to keep thinking, he didn’t have a name—got on the machine, savoring the ride”.

5- Third person multiple

This type of writing in the third person is the one that jumps from one character to another when changing chapters. When he’s with one, he’s omniscient in that character’s universe; knows what he thinks and feels.

But when he goes to another character, he only knows about his universe, as in the example given, where the narrator changes with the beginning of each chapter of the book.

Extract from the prologue of Song of ice and fire; Game of Thronesby author George RR Martin

“Will could feel the tightness around Gared’s mouth and the barely contained anger in the eyes, under the thick black hood of the cloak.

Gared had been with the Night’s Watch for forty years, much of his childhood and all of his adult life, and he was not used to being made fun of.

But that was not all. Will sensed something more in the old man than wounded pride. A tension too similar to fear was almost palpable in him.

Extract from the first chapter of Song of ice and fire; Game of Thronesby author George RR Martin

“There were twenty in all, and Bran rode among them, nervous and excited. It was the first time that he was considered old enough to accompany his father and his brothers to witness the king’s justice.

It was the ninth year of summer, and the seventh of Bran’s life.

6- Third person plural

“In the residence the claims were different. They valued tranquility very much. They were just looking for a space in which to pray, reflect and rest. In turn, they wanted a common meeting point where they could chat until late”.

7- Third person singular

“The bohemian entered the forest without knowing very well where to go. He had read something in the local books about the paths that led to the hermitage of San Cristóbal, but geography was not exactly his strong point”.

8- In the past

“They met after a vacation with their parents in Rome. While the Carneiros were looking for adventure, the Pedrotes visited the eternal city to discover the local gastronomy. Ana Belén and Rosa met in line at a very famous pizzeria and the crush was instantaneous.

9- For a thesis

“In the United States, until the arrival of the 2016 Presidential Elections, the communication advisors of the candidates did not show interest in the well-known fake news. Until then, the Democratic and Republican parties focused on doing politics in the most traditional way, with social networks being the small indication that something was changing. Thus, Obama laid the foundations, but it was with Donald Trump that the way of conducting electoral campaigns turned 180 degrees.

10- For an essay

Capitalism began to be practiced consciously after the Industrial Revolution and with The Wealth of Nations (The wealth of nationss) drawn up by Adam Smith in 1776.

Scholars, especially Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, warned about the dangers of it and the need to establish a new economic order:

«Until today, anti-capitalist movements spread throughout the world, but it seems that the economic and social system based on private property triumphs without convincing.»


First, Second and Third person. (2017) grammarly.com
What is third person? grammar-monster.com
Third person. (2017) collinsdictionary.com
Third person meaning. (2017) meanings.com
Third person writing example. (2015) aboutespanol.com
The grammatical perspective. (2017) portalacademico.cch.unam.mx

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