Point of View (POV)



Classification & Function
First-person POV

Second-person POV
Third-person POV
Third-person omniscient
Third-person limited
Third-Person Objective



Further reading

External links

Point of view (POV) classifies the stance and the identity of the person who records and reports the action---that is the person whose eyes and mind become ours as we read the story.(1)

In actuality, a great many points of view are possible judging from which grammatical person's perspective the story is perceived.
Basically, in classification, there are three types: first-person, second-person and third-person point of view.
First-person POV
In the first-person point of view, the story is narrated by a narrator who is also a character in the story, usually the story’s protagonist. The narrator reveals the plot by using the first person viewpoint which is “I” when singular or, “we” when plural.
A first narrator can be reliable or unreliable for readers can only know what the characer knows and feels. What the narrator recounts in the story may not be the truth.
Function: First-person view allows readers to feel very close to a specific character and observe the story develop from this character’s view. (2)
Second-person POV
Second-person point of view is the least commonly used point of view in literary writings. In this point of view, the narrator uses the pronoun “you” to refer to one of the character in the story and to address the reader or listener directly. (3) The second-person point of view is rarely used in fiction but it does appear very often in speeches and other forms of non-fiction such as letters, greeting cards and so on.(4)
Function: Second-person POV allows readers to feel as if he or she is a character in the story. (5)
Third-person POV
The third-person point of view is the most commonly used mode of point of view. When it is used, the narrator relates all action in third person, and each character in the story is referred to third person pronouns such as "he", "she", “it” or “they”. (6) However, the narrator isn’t involved in the story.
There are three main types of third-person point of view:
Third-person omniscient:
In omniscient third-person point of view, the narrator knows everything about all the characters in the story. (7)
Third-person limited
A narrator whose knowledge is limited to one character, either major or minor, has a limited point of view.(8)
Third-Person Objective:
The narrative in the story observes and reports in a seemingly netral and impersonal way. (9)


Examples of different types of point of view:
First-person point of view:
"I could picture it. I have a rotten habit of picturing the bedroom scenes of my friends. We went out to the Cafe Napolitain to have an aperitif and watch the evening crowd on the Boulevard." (Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises ).The narrator is protagonist Jake Barnes.

Second-person poin of view:
Example:"You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy. You are at a nightclub talking to a girl with a shaved head. The club is either Heartbreak or the Lizard Lounge. All might become clear if you could just slip into the bathroom and do a little more Bolivian Marching Powder. Then again, it might not. A small voice inside you insists that this epidemic lack of clarity is a result of too much of that already."(Jay Mclnerney’s Bright lights, Big City)

Third-person point of view:
“When Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former, who had been cautious in her praise of Mr. Bingley before, expressed to her sister how very much she admired him.
‘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's Pride and Prejudice,)
Examples of novels in terms of different types of third-person POV:
Third-person omniscient: E.B. White’s Charlotte's Web
Third-person limitedKatherine Mansfield's Miss Brill
Third-Person Objective: John Reed’s The Rise of Pancho Villa

Exercises on POV:
A website which provides exercises on judging POV.


A very useful website which contains videos, activities and questions & answers about POV.

Further reading:
Narrative mode
Third person omniscient
Unreliable narrator
Fiction-writing modes
External links: