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How to write in third-person
Although there are three narratives you can use in any form of writing when it comes to your papers and anything academic you produce, it’s best to choose the third-person. It’s pretty simple with a bit of practice, but if you’re completely new to this writing style, here’s what you need to know about how to write in third-person.
What does writing in third-person mean?
Writing in third-person is one of the three styles you can use when describing a point of view. Even though you might not know it, chances are you’ve used first, second and third person in writing projects throughout your education.
It’s a narrative where you’re totally independent of the subject you’re analyzing and writing about. You don’t take sides. You don’t try to influence what readers feel. It’s a completely unbiased, objective way of writing that tells a story or dissects a topic right down the middle.
There’s a lot of information out there about how you can differentiate between the three in roundabout ways, making it unnecessarily complicated. Here’s a quick breakdown to understand the differences for when you write your following paper:
This is from the I/we perspective. It’s where we talk about us , ourselves, and our opinions. If we go down the first-person route, writing will include pronouns like I , me , myself, and mine .
This point of view belongs to the person you’re addressing — so its a you perspective. In your writing, you’d use second-person pronouns such as you , your, and yourselves .
The third-person point of view is aimed at the person or people being talked about, which is the type of writing you’d find in stories. In this perspective, you’d use pronouns like he , she , him , her , his , hers , himself , herself , it , them , their, and themselves . Or, you’d use a name. But that tends to happen more in stories than research papers.
Notice the difference between the three?
When to write in third-person
The third-person point of view tells the reader a story and it’s often the go-to when you’re taking an authoritative stance in your papers, which is why it’s so common in academic writing.
So, always choose the third-person stance when writing academic copy, such as essays and research papers.
The reason for this is it’ll make your papers less personal and more objective, meaning the objectivity will make you come across as more credible and less biased. Ultimately, this will help your grades as the third-person view keeps you focused on evidence and facts instead of your opinion.
You can break third-person perspectives into three other types, including omniscient, limited, and objective. Although they’re more associated with creative writing than academic work and essays, your writing is likely to fall under the third-person objective point of view.
A third-person objective point of view is about being neutral and presenting your findings and research in an observational way, rather than influencing the reader with your opinions.
How to use the third-person point of view
Rule number one: Never refer to yourself in your essay in the third-person. That’s a no-no.
For instance, here’s how you shouldn’t write a sentence in your essay if you’re writing about virtual learning as an example.
“I feel like students perform better at home because they have more freedom and are more comfortable.”
It’s a simple sentence, but there’s a lot wrong with it when you’re talking about research papers and adopting a third-person narrative. Why? Because you’re using first-person pronouns and, as it sounds like an opinion, you can’t back up your claims with a stat or any credible research. There’s no substance to it whatsoever.
Also, it isn’t very assertive. The person marking your work won’t be impressed by “I feel like,” because it shows no authority and highlights that it came from your brain and not anywhere of note.
By including terms like “I think” or “I feel” like in the example above, you’re already off to a bad start.
But when you switch that example to the third-person point of view, you can cite your sources , which is precisely what you need to do in your essays and research papers to achieve higher grades.
Let’s switch that sentence up and expand it using the third-person point of view:
“A psychological study from Karrie Goodwin shows that students thrive in virtual classrooms as it offers flexibility. They can make their own hours and take regular breaks. Another study from high school teacher, Ashlee Trip, highlighted that children enjoy freedom, the ability to work at their own pace and decide what their day will look like.”
With a third-person narrative, you can present evidence to the reader and back up the claims you make. So, it not only shows what you know, but it also shows you took the time to research and strengthen your paper with credible resources and facts — not just opinions.
6 tips for writing in third-person
1. understand your voice won’t always shine in your essays.
Every single piece of writing tends to have a voice or point of view as if you’re speaking to the reader directly. However, that can’t always happen in academic writing as it’s objective compared to a novel, for example. Don’t try to ‘fluff’ up your piece to try and cram your personality in, as your academic work doesn’t need it.
2. Don’t focus on yourself or the reader — focus on the text
An academic piece of work always has a formal tone as it’s objective. When you write your next paper, focus on the writing itself rather than the writer or the reader.
3. Coach yourself out of using first-person pronouns
This is easier said than done if all you’ve ever done is first- or second-person writing. When you write your next paper, scan through it to see if you’ve written anything in first-person and replace it with the third-person narrative.
Here are a few regular offenders that pop up in academic papers — along with how you can switch the statements to third-person:
- I argue should be this essay argues
- I found that should be it was found that
- We researched should be the group researched
- I will also analyze should be topic X will also be analyzed
The same applies to second-person, as there are plenty of cases where it tends to slip through in academic writing. Again, it’s pretty straightforward to switch the more you practice. For instance:
- Your paper will be marked higher if you use a citation tool should be the use of a citation tool will improve one’s grades
4. Be as specific as possible
This is where things can get a little bit confusing. Writing in third-person is all about including pronouns like he, she, it, and they. However, using them towards the beginning of sentences can be pretty vague and might even confuse the reader — this is the last thing you want from your essay or paper.
Instead, try using nouns towards the beginning of sentences. For example, use the actual subject, such as the interviewer or the writer, rather than he, she, or they when you begin the sentence.
The same applies to terms like it. Start the sentence with the ‘it’ is that you’re describing. If it’s a citation tool, begin the sentence by referencing what you’re discussing, so you aren’t vague. Clarity is key.
5. Write in the present tense when using third-person
In any form of academic writing, you need to write your reports, essays, and research papers in the present tense, especially when introducing different subjects or findings.
So, rather than saying “This paper analyzed” (which does seem correct as technically that part was in the past and the writing is in the present), you should write “This report analyzes” — as if you’re analyzing right here and now.
However, the difference is when you highlight how you did the research, that should be in the past tense. This means you’d use third-person phrases like “The equipment that was used” or “The results were analyzed by”, for instance.
6. Avoid adding your own thoughts
If your report is on a subject that’s close to your heart, it can be super tempting to sprinkle in your own thoughts. It’s a challenge, but you need to coach yourself out of it.
In academic writing, you aren’t a commentator. You’re a reporter. You need to let readers draw their conclusions without over-analyzing them or making the reader lean one way or another.
The easiest way to get to grips with writing your academic papers in the third-person is to be consistent and practice often. Criticize your work and analyze it until it becomes the norm. Yes, it can be a little complex in the early days, but before you know it, you’d have mastered the technique, helping you take your papers and reports up a level.
Frequently Asked Questions about writing in third-person
In third-person, you’d use pronouns like he , she , him , her , his , hers , himself , herself , it , them , their, and themselves . Or, you’d use a name.
You is used in second person and is therefore not used in third person. The second person is used for the person that is being addressed.
The third-person point of view is aimed at the person or people being talked about, which is the type of writing you’d find in stories. When writing in third-person view, make sure to write in the present tense and avoid adding your own thoughts.
When writing in third person, you should actually always write in the present tense since you are mostly presenting results in this view.
The second person point of view belongs to the person you’re addressing — so its a you perspective. In your writing, you’d use second-person pronouns such as you , your, and yourselves .
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How to Write in Third Person
Last Updated: October 6, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Alicia Cook . Alicia Cook is a Professional Writer based in Newark, New Jersey. With over 12 years of experience, Alicia specializes in poetry and uses her platform to advocate for families affected by addiction and to fight for breaking the stigma against addiction and mental illness. She holds a BA in English and Journalism from Georgian Court University and an MBA from Saint Peter’s University. Alicia is a bestselling poet with Andrews McMeel Publishing and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the NY Post, CNN, USA Today, the HuffPost, the LA Times, American Songwriter Magazine, and Bustle. She was named by Teen Vogue as one of the 10 social media poets to know and her poetry mixtape, “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” was a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,100,384 times.
Writing in third person can be a simple task, with a little practice. For academic purposes, third person writing means that the writer must avoid using subjective pronouns like “I” or “you.” For creative writing purposes, there are differences between third person omniscient, limited, objective, and episodically limited points of view. Choose which one fits your writing project.
Writing in Third Person Academically
- Third person helps the writing stay focused on facts and evidence instead of personal opinion.
- Third person pronouns include: he, she, it; his, her, its; him, her, it; himself, herself, itself; they; them; their; themselves.
- Names of other people are also considered appropriate for third person use.
- Example: “ Smith believes differently. According to his research, earlier claims on the subject are incorrect.”
- First person pronouns include: I, me, my, mine, myself, we, us, our, ours, ourselves.  X Research source
- The problem with first person is that, academically speaking, it sounds too personalized and too subjective. In other words, it may be difficult to convince the reader that the views and ideas being expressed are unbiased and untainted by personal feelings. Many times, when using first person in academic writing, people use phrases like "I think," "I believe," or "in my opinion."
- Incorrect example: “Even though Smith thinks this way, I think his argument is incorrect.”
- Correct example: “Even though Smith thinks this way, others in the field disagree.”
- Second person pronouns include: you, your, yours, yourself.  X Research source
- One main problem with second person is that it can sound accusatory. It runs to risk of placing too much responsibility on the shoulders of the reader specifically and presently reading the work.
- Incorrect example: “If you still disagree nowadays, then you must be ignorant of the facts.”
- Correct example: “Someone who still disagrees nowadays must be ignorant of the facts.”
- Indefinite third person nouns common to academic writing include: the writer, the reader, individuals, students, a student, an instructor, people, a person, a woman, a man, a child, researchers, scientists, writers, experts.
- Example: “In spite of the challenges involved, researchers still persist in their claims.”
- Indefinite third person pronouns include: one, anyone, everyone, someone, no one, another, any, each, either, everybody, neither, nobody, other, anybody, somebody, everything, someone.
- Incorrect example: "You might be tempted to agree without all the facts."
- Correct example: “ One might be tempted to agree without all the facts.”
- This is usually done in an attempt to avoid the gender-specific “he” and “she” pronouns. The mistake here would be to use the “they” pronoun with singular conjugation.  X Research source
- Incorrect example: “The witness wanted to offer anonymous testimony. They was afraid of getting hurt if their name was spread.”
- Correct example: “The witness wanted to offer anonymous testimony. They were afraid of getting hurt if their name was spread.”
Writing in Third Person Omniscient
- For instance, a story may include four major characters: William, Bob, Erika, and Samantha. At various points throughout the story, the thoughts and actions of each character should be portrayed. These thoughts can occur within the same chapter or block of narration.
- Writers of omniscient narratives should be conscious of “head-hopping” — that is, shifting character perspectives within a scene. While this does not technically break the rules of Third Person Omniscience, it is widely considered a hallmark of narrative laziness.
- In a sense, the writer of a third person omniscient story is somewhat like the “god” of that story. The writer can observe the external actions of any character at any time, but unlike a limited human observer, the writer can also peek into the inner workings of that character at will, as well.
- Know when to hold back. Even though a writer can reveal any information he or she chooses to reveal, it may be more beneficial to reveal some things gradually. For instance, if one character is supposed to have a mysterious aura, it would be wise to limit access to that character's inner feelings for a while before revealing his or her true motives.
- Do not use first person and second person points of view in the narrative or descriptive portions of the text.
- Correct example: Bob said to Erika, “I think this is creepy. What do you think?”
- Incorrect example: I thought this was creepy, and Bob and Erika thought so, too. What do you think?
Writing in Third Person Limited
- The thoughts and feelings of other characters remain an unknown for the writer throughout the duration of the text. There should be no switching back and forth between characters for this specific type of narrative viewpoint.
- Unlike first person, where the narrator and protagonist are the same, third person limited puts a critical sliver of distance between protagonist and narrator. The writer has the choice to describe one main character’s nasty habit — something they wouldn’t readily reveal if the narration were left entirely to them.
- In other words, do not use first person pronouns like “I,” “me,” “my,” “we,” or “our” outside of dialog. The main character's thoughts and feelings are transparent to the writer, but that character should not double as a narrator.
- Correct example: “Tiffany felt awful after the argument with her boyfriend.”
- Correct example: “Tiffany thought, “I feel awful after that argument with my boyfriend.”
- Incorrect example: “I felt awful after the argument with my boyfriend.”
- Note that the writer can offer insight or guesses regarding the thoughts of other characters, but those guesses must be presented through the perspective of the main character.
- Correct example: “Tiffany felt awful, but judging by the expression on Carl's face, she imagined that he felt just as bad if not worse.”
- Incorrect example: “Tiffany felt awful. What she didn't know was that Carl felt even worse.”
- Correct example: “Tiffany watched from the window as Carl walked up to her house and rang the doorbell.”
- Incorrect example: “As soon as Tiffany left the room, Carl let out a sigh of relief.”
Writing in Episodically Limited Third Person
- Limit the amount of pov characters you include. You don't want to have too many characters that confuse your reader or serve no purpose. Each pov character should have a specific purpose for having a unique point of view. Ask yourself what each pov character contributes to the story.
- For instance, in a romance story following two main characters, Kevin and Felicia, the writer may opt to explain the inner workings of both characters at different moments in the story.
- One character may receive more attention than any other, but all main characters being followed should receive attention at some point in the story.
- Multiple perspectives should not appear within the same narrative space. When one character's perspective ends, another character's can begin. The two perspectives should not be intermixed within the same space.
- Incorrect example: “Kevin felt completely enamored of Felicia from the moment he met her. Felicia, on the other hand, had difficulty trusting Kevin.”
- In a novel-length work, a good time to switch perspective is at the start of a new chapter or at a chapter break.
- The writer should also identify the character whose perspective is being followed at the start of the section, preferably in the first sentence. Otherwise, the reader may waste too much energy guessing.
- Correct example: “Felicia hated to admit it, but the roses Kevin left on her doorstep were a pleasant surprise.”
- Incorrect example: “The roses left on the doorstep seemed like a nice touch.”
- For instance, if Kevin had a talk with Felicia's best friend about Felicia's feelings for him, Felicia herself would have no way of knowing what was said unless she witnessed the conversation or heard about it from either Kevin or her friend.
Writing in Third Person Objective
- There does not need to be a single main character to focus on. The writer can switch between characters, following different characters throughout the course of the narrative, as often as needed.
- Stay away from first person terms like “I” and second person terms like “you” in the narrative, though. Only use first and second person within dialog.
- Imagine that you are an invisible bystander observing the actions and dialog of the characters in your story. You are not omniscient, so you do not have access to any character's inner thoughts and feelings. You only have access to each character's actions.
- Correct example: “After class, Graham hurriedly left the room and rushed back to his dorm room.”
- Incorrect example: “After class, Graham raced from the room and rushed back to his dorm room. The lecture had made him so angry that he felt as though he might snap at the next person he met.”
- Correct example: “When no one else was watching her, Isabelle began to cry.”
- Incorrect example: “Isabelle was too prideful to cry in front of other people, but she felt completely broken-hearted and began crying once she was alone.”
- Let the reader draw his or her own conclusions. Present the actions of the character without analyzing them or explaining how those actions should be viewed.
- Correct example: “Yolanda looked over her shoulder three times before sitting down.”
- Incorrect example: “It might seem like a strange action, but Yolanda looked over her shoulder three times before sitting down. This compulsive habit is an indication of her paranoid state of mind.”
Examples of Third Person POV
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- ↑ https://stlcc.edu/student-support/academic-success-and-tutoring/writing-center/writing-resources/point-of-view-in-academic-writing.aspx
- ↑ http://studysupportresources.port.ac.uk/Writing%20in%20the%20third%20peson.pdf
- ↑ http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/third_person.htm
- ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/use-the-singular-they/
- ↑ Alicia Cook. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 11 December 2020.
- ↑ https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/point-of-view-first-second-third-person-difference
- ↑ https://ojs.library.dal.ca/YAHS/article/viewFile/7236/6278
About This Article
To write in third person, refer to people or characters by name or use third person pronouns like he, she, it; his, her, its; him, her, it; himself, herself, itself; they; them; their; and themselves. Avoid first and second person pronouns completely. For academic writing, focus on a general viewpoint rather than a specific person's to keep things in third person. In other types of writing, you can write in third person by shifting your focus from character to character or by focusing on a single character. To learn more from our Literary Studies Ph.D., like the differences between third person omniscient and third person limited writing, keep reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Point of View in Academic Writing
Point of view is the perspective from which an essay is written. The following chart lists both the personal pronouns and their possessive forms used with these points of view:
When choosing appropriate point of view for academic or formal writing, consider the type and purpose of the assignment.
First-person point of view is used to write stories/narratives or examples about personal experiences from your own life. Note the following paragraph:
Several people have made a lasting impression on me . I remember one person in particular who was significant to me . Dr. Smith, my high school English teacher, helped my family and me through a difficult time during my junior year. We appreciated her care, kindness, and financial help after the loss of our home in a devastating fire.
Note : Academic writing often requires us to avoid first-person point of view in favor of third-person point of view, which can be more objective and convincing. Often, students will say, “ I think the author is very convincing.” Taking out I makes a stronger statement or claim: “The author is very convincing.”
Second-person point of view, which directly addresses the reader, works well for giving advice or explaining how to do something. A process analysis paper would be a good choice for using the second-person point of view, as shown in this paragraph:
In order to prepare microwave popcorn, you will need a microwave and a box of microwave popcorn which you’ve purchased at a grocery store. First of all, you need to remove the popcorn package from the box and take off the plastic wrap. Next, open your microwave and place the package in the center with the proper side up. Then set your microwave for the suggested number of minutes as stated on the box. Finally, when the popcorn is popped, you’re ready for a great treat.
Note : Academic writing generally avoids second-person point of view in favor of third-person point of view. Second person can be too casual for formal writing, and it can also alienate the reader if the reader does not identify with the idea.
In academic writing, sometimes "you" needs to be replaced with nouns or proper nouns to create more formality or to clarify the idea. Here are some examples:
Third-person point of view identifies people by proper noun (a given name such as Shema Ahemed) or noun (such as teachers, students, players, or doctors ) and uses the pronouns they, she, and he . Third person also includes the use of one, everyone, and anyone. Most formal, academic writing uses the third person. Note the use of various third-person nouns and pronouns in the following:
The bosses at the company have decided that employees need a day of in-house training. Times have been scheduled for everyone . Several senior employees will be required to make five-minute presentations. One is not eager to speak in front of others since he’s very shy. Another one , however, is anxious to relate their expertise. The variation in routine should provide an interesting day for all people concerned.
Third Person Pronouns: Gender-Fair Use of Language and Singular “They”
In the past, if you wanted to refer to one unnamed person, you used the masculine pronoun: If a person is strong, he will stand up for himself . Today, you should avoid the automatic use of the masculine pronoun because it is considered sexist language.
Also avoid perpetuating gender stereotypes by assigning a particular gendered pronoun: A doctor should listen to his patients. A nurse should listen to her patients . These examples make assumptions that doctors are men and nurses are women, which is a sexist stereotype.
Instead, use the pronouns they or them to refer to a person whose gender is undisclosed or irrelevant to the context of the usage: If a person is strong, they will stand up for themselves when they believe in something.
First, Second, and Third Person in Writing
First, second, and third person are ways of describing points of view.
- First person is the I/we perspective.
- Second person is the you perspective.
- Third person is the he/she/it/they perspective.
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First-person point of view
When we talk about ourselves , our opinions, and the things that happen to us , we generally speak in the first person. The biggest clue that a sentence is written in the first person is the use of first-person pronouns. In the first sentence of this paragraph, the pronouns appear in bold text. We, us, our, and ourselves are all first-person pronouns. Specifically, they are plural first-person pronouns. Singular first-person pronouns include I, me, my, mine and myself .
Is they first-person point of view?
They is not first-person point of view. While they is now used as a singular pronoun to represent someone regardless of gender, it is still a third-person point of view. The only first-person pronouns are I and we for subjects, plus me and us for objects—all of which are gender-neutral.
First-person point of view examples
I think I lost my wallet! I can’t find it anywhere! Oh, I could just kick myself!
We could do ourselves a favor and make a reservation for our group.
Many stories and novels are written in the first-person point of view. In this kind of narrative, you are inside a character’s head, watching the story unfold through that character’s eyes.
When I fall asleep, I can still see the sunlight on the waves.
Second-person point of view
The second-person point of view belongs to the person (or people) being addressed. This is the “you” perspective. Once again, the biggest indicator of the second person is the use of second-person pronouns: you, your, yours, yourself, yourselves .
Second-person point of view examples
You can wait in here and make yourself at home.
You should be proud of yourselves for finishing this enormous project!
Stories and novels written in the second person exist, but they are much rarer than narratives written from a first- or third-person perspective.
You remember that you were supposed to turn left, but now you’re lost in the maze of the housing development. Every house looks the same, and you’re running late; it’s time for you to start knocking on doors.
Third-person point of view
The third-person point of view belongs to the person (or people) being talked about. The third-person pronouns include he, him, his, himself, she, her, hers, herself, it, its, itself, they, them, their, theirs, and themselves .
Third-person point of view examples
Tiffany used her prize money from the science fair to buy herself a new microscope.
The concertgoers roared their approval when they realized they’d be getting an encore.
You can’t always rely on pronouns to tell you the perspective of a sentence. Not all sentences include pronouns, especially in the third person:
Mike always hated school.
But if you look at this sentence and think “Mike isn’t me,” you can eliminate the first person. You can also think “I’m not talking to Mike,” so that eliminates the second person. You’re left with the third person.
Plenty of stories and novels are written in the third person. In this type of story, a disembodied narrator describes what the characters do and what happens to them. You don’t see directly through a character’s eyes as you do in a first-person narrative, but often the narrator describes the main character’s thoughts and feelings about what’s going on.
Lydia was curious when the face appeared in the third-story window, but she hesitated before making her way upstairs.
Speaking in the third person
Most of the time when people talk about themselves, they speak in the first person. It would certainly be eccentric to talk about yourself in the third person all the time, but you may do it once in a while for comedic effect or to grab someone’s attention.
Tina: Let’s get sushi for lunch. It’s Jeff’s favorite!
Tom: No, Jeff hates sushi. I think he’d rather get burritos.
Jeff: Um, does Jeff get a vote?
Are you using point of view correctly?
You don’t have to guess whether you’re using certain words correctly or breaking grammar rules in your writing. Just copy and paste your writing and get instant feedback on whether your sentences have misspellings, punctuation errors, or any structural mistakes.
- A Research Guide
- Writing Guide
- Writing Techniques
An Instruction to How to Write in Third Person
How to write in third person without mistakes.
When to write in third-person?
- Academic Writing
- Creative Writing
- Third person omniscient
- Third person objective
- Third person limited
- All your academic writing should be in the third person
Read also: Where to pay someone to do your research paper at affordable prices?
- Ensure that you adopt the right pronouns
- Don’t use first person pronouns
- Do away with second person pronouns
- Use general terms to refer to your subject
- Take care of singular and plural pronouns
- Creative Writing
- Ensure that you don’t stick to only a single character
- Take charge of your narration
- Do away with first and second person pronoun
How to perfect your third person writing?
- Focus on a single character
- Talk about the other characters from the sideline
- Deal with the words and actions of other characters
- Keep information that is not familiar to your main character
How to use third person point of view
- Switch to different characters
- Avoid being direct
- Use descriptions
- Forget about your thoughts
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How do you write an essay in third person?
By putting it in third person, you are able to list sources, and you are encouraged to do so. That's why you're asked to write essays in third person.
This is the way your sentence should be:
School lunches are very bad because according to The New York Times , the 2012 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act causes children to not like how the food tastes, and so they do not eat it.
By writing in third-person, you are able to present evidence to your reader. So when you write in third person, show what you know, with evidence backing up your points.
It won't be as redundant as saying "I think/believe" or "I feel" when we know/hope you wrote the paper and you hopefully have sources to back up your claims.
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Third-Person Point of View
Many academic disciplines ask their writers to use third person point of view (POV). If so, then writing in the third person is important because your writing will appear professional and credible.
You may occasionally use first person POV to create a more personal tone, or second person POV to command a reader to do something. This depends on the assignment requirements, or on what your instructor recommends. If you are receiving this comment, then you should consider revising your use of other points-of-view to write your project in third person POV.
Third Person Personal Pronouns
Note: While the above pronouns represent the third person, instead of using it , that , these , those or this , specific words or phrases will better help readers follow the writer’s logic.
How do you change first or second person to third person?
Here is a table that shows several common instances of first or second person in essays and some examples of how to revise to the third person.
When is third-person point of view used?
Third person is used when a degree of objectivity is intended, and it is often used in academic documents, such as research and argument papers. This perspective directs the reader’s attention to the subject being presented and discussed. Third person personal pronouns include he, she, it, they, him, her, them, his, her, hers, its, their, and theirs .
Examples of sentences written from the third person point of view:
- She went to the library to consult with the reference librarian about her paper’s topic.
- When he got to his car, he was glad to see that his friend was waiting for him .
- The students entered the classroom nervously on the first day of class; they had not had the opportunity to become acquainted with their professor or with each other.
- Jenny and her friend used backpacks to simplify the task of carrying books, notebooks, writing tools and a laptop around campus.
- Human sex trafficking is a social problem that requires decisive action; its victims should be given the opportunity to escape the cycle of exploitation to which they have become slaves.
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How to Replace I in Essays: Alternative 3rd Person Pronouns
replacing I in essays
Learning how to write an essay without using ‘I,’ ‘We,’ or ‘You,’ and other personal languages can be challenging for students. The best writing skills recommend not to use such pronouns. This guide explores how to replace ‘I,’ ‘We,’ or ‘You’ in an essay and the methods to avoid them.
For those of us who have been able to overcome this, you will agree that there was a time when you experienced a challenge when finding alternatives to clauses such as “I will argue” or “I think.”
The good thing is that there are several methods of communicating your point and writing an essay without using ‘I’ or related personal language.
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Why Avoid Using Pronouns in Formal Writing
Before identifying the communication methods without using personal language like “I,” it is best to know why we should avoid such language while writing essays.
The most important reason for avoiding such language is because it is not suitable for formal writing such as essays. Appropriate professional English should not include any form of personal pronouns or language.
The second and equally important reason to avoid using personal language while writing an essay is to sound impersonal, functional, and objective.
In formal English, personal pronouns conflict with the idea of being impersonal, functional, and objective because they make redundant references to the writer and other people.
Personal pronouns will make an essay seem to contain only the writer’s perspectives and others they have deliberately selected. Again, they will make the work appear subjective.
Another reason to avoid personal language while coming up with an essay is to avoid sounding as if you have an urgent need to impress the reader through wording.
Personal pronouns like “you” and “I” tend to suggest something important that is away from what the writing is all about.
By continually using “I,” “we,” or “you,” you are taking the reader’s attention from the essay to other personal issues. The essay becomes all about the writer.
That being said, let’s explore how to replace “I” in an essay.
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Ways of avoiding pronouns “i,” “you,” and “we” in an essay.
You can replace the pronouns ‘I’, ‘You’, and ‘We’ by replacing them with acceptable wording, applying passive voice instead of pronouns, Using a third-person perspective, adopting an objective language, and including strong verbs and adjectives.
In our other guide, we explained the best practices to avoid using ‘you’ in essay writing and use academically sound words. Let us explore each of these strategies in detail.
1. Replacing it with an Acceptable Wording
This is a very good strategy for replacing “I” in an essay. The problem is that it is often difficult to find the right word to replace the personal pronoun. Though this is the case, “I” has some alternatives.
For example, if the verb that follows it revolves around writing and research, such as “…will present” or “…have described”, it is best to replace “I” with text-referencing nouns such as “the essay.”
If you wanted to say “I will present” or “I have described”, then the alternative will be “the essay will present,” or “as described in the essay.”
Another method of replacing “I” in an essay is using appropriate wording like “this writer” if the verb’s action is not within the text.
While this is sometimes acceptable, it is often advised to have no words here by using passive verbs or their equivalents.
A wording that may also be used but rarely suitable is “the researcher”. This alternative can only be used when your actions as a writer are completely detached from the writing.
2. Using Passive voice Instead of Pronouns
Another way to replace “I” and other personal pronouns in an essay is to use passive voice. This is achieved by transforming an active verb passive.
Though this is the case, the strategy is often difficult, and it may create sentence structures that are not acceptable in formal writing and language.
The sentences in which “I” can be successfully changed using this strategy is when an active verb describing an object is transformed into its passive form.
3. Using a Third-Person Perspective
This is a very important and applicable strategy when replacing “I” in an essay. This is where you avoid using first-person and second-person perspectives.
When referring to the subject matter, refer directly to them using the third person. For example, if you were to write, “I think regular exercise is good for mind and body”, you can replace it with “Regular exercise is good for mind and body”.
4. Use of Objective Language
Objective language is lost when a person uses informal expressions like colloquialisms, slang, contractions, and clichés. It is the reason why we discourage the use of contractions in essay writing so that you can keep things formal.
While informal language can be applicable in casual writing and speeches, it is not acceptable when writing essays. This is because you will be tempted to use a first-person perspective to convey your message.
5. Being Specific and using Strong Verbs and Adjectives
In most cases, essays that have been written using a lot of personal pronouns tend to be imprecise. When you want to avoid using “I” in your essay, try to be exact and straight to the point.
Personal pronouns tend to convey a subjective message, and it is up to the writer to explain their perspectives through writing.
Here, a writer will use a lot of “I think…” or “I believe…” to express their opinion. By doing so, the writer will end up wasting a lot of time explaining a concept.
Instead of doing that, it is best to look for appropriate verbs and adjectives to explain the points. Also, use objective language. Refer to the suggestions given by credible evidence instead of basing your arguments on what you think.
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Words to use Instead of Personal Pronouns like “You” and “I”
As noted, it is important to avoid using personal pronouns such as “You” and “I” when writing an essay.
By eliminating them or finding alternatives to them, your essay will be formal and objective. You can decide to eliminate them in a sentence.
For example, you could be having a sentence like “I think the author makes a valid point concerning capitalism.”
In this example, you can eliminate the personal language and write, “The author makes a valid point concerning capitalism.”
The second sentence goes straight to the point and is objective.
Other words to use instead of personal pronouns, like “You” and “I,” can be created when personal judgment words are avoided.
Instead, it is best to replace those words with those that refer to the evidence.
Examples of Ways to Replace Personal Pronouns
Below are examples of how personal judgment words can be replaced by words referring to the evidence.
- I feel – In light of the evidence
- From I think – According to the findings
- I agree – It is evident from the data that
- I am convinced – Considering the results
- You can see that – From the results, it is evident that
Using the third-person or “it” constructions can be used to replace personal pronouns like “You” and “I.” Such words also help to reduce the word count of your essay and make it short and precise.
For example, if you write “I conclude that, “replace those words with “it could be concluded that. ” Here, “it” constructions are helping replace personal pronouns to make the sentence more objective and precise.
To be more specific, words to replace personal pronouns like “I” include “one,” the viewer,” “the author,” “the reader,” “readers,” or something similar.
However, avoid overusing those words because your essay will seem stiff and awkward. For example, if you write, “I can perceive the plot’s confusion,” you can replace “I” by writing, “Readers can perceive the plot’s confusion.”
Words that can be used instead of personal pronouns like “You” include “one,” “the viewer,” reader,” “readers,” or any other similar phrases. It is similar to words that replace first-person pronouns.
For example, if you write “you can see that the poet’s tone is serious and urgent,” you can replace “You” by writing “readers/one can see that the poet’s tone is serious and urgent.”
Words to use Instead of “My” in an Essay
Since “My” demonstrates the possessiveness of something, in this case, the contents or thoughts within an essay, it makes the writing subjective. According to experts, writing should take an objective language . To do this, it is important to replace it.
You can replace the word “My” with “the”. For example, if you write, “My final thoughts concerning the issue are”, you can write, “The final thoughts concerning the issues are”.
In this case, the article “The” makes the sentence formal and objective.
Another method is eliminating the word “My” from the sentence to make it more objective and straight to the point.
In the same example above, if you write “My final thoughts concerning the issue are”, you can write “Final thoughts concerning the issue are”.
The major difference here is that the word “my” in the first example makes it subjective, and eliminating it from the sentence makes it sound formal and objective.
Therefore, when writing an essay, it is important to avoid personal pronouns like “You”, “I,” and “My.” Not all papers use third-person language. Different types of essays are formatted differently, a 5-paragraph essay is different from a 4-page paper , but all use third-person tones.
This is because an essay should be written in formal language, and using personal pronouns makes it appear and sound informal. Therefore, writing an essay without using ‘I’ is good.
Formal language makes your essay sound objective and precise. However, do not remove the first-person language when writing personal experiences in an essay or a paper. This is because it is acceptable and formal that way.
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With over 10 years in academia and academic assistance, Alicia Smart is the epitome of excellence in the writing industry. She is our managing editor and is in charge of the writing operations at Grade Bees.
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