Understanding Point of View: Definition, Types, and Examples
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Point of View in Literature
  2. First Person Point of View
  3. Second Person Point of View
  4. Third Person Point of View
  5. Third Person Omniscient
  6. Third Person Limited
  7. Third Person Objective
  8. Examples of Point of View

Everyone has their own unique way of looking at things, their own personal perspective, or, in literary terms, their own point of view. When it comes to writing, the point of view can make all the difference. It's the eyes through which readers see the story, the ears with which they hear it, and the heart with which they feel it. In this blog, we'll explore the definition of point of view, its different types, and some examples to help you understand it better.

Point of View in Literature

So, what exactly is the definition of point of view in literature? It's the perspective from which a story is told. The choice of point of view can shape the reader's understanding and engagement with the story. It's like being in someone else's shoes and seeing the world as they do.

But wait, you might be thinking, aren't there different types of point of view? You're absolutely right. In fact, there are several types, each with its own unique characteristics and effects:

  • First Person Point of View: This is when the story is told from the perspective of a character in the story, typically using "I" or "we".
  • Second Person Point of View: This is less common and involves the author speaking directly to the reader, using "you".
  • Third Person Point of View: This is when the narrator is outside of the story and refers to characters using "he", "she", or "they". There are three subtypes of this point of view—omniscient, limited, and objective.

Each of these points of view offers a different lens through which to tell a story. They can create intimacy, distance, mystery, or clarity. Understanding these types and when to use them can greatly enhance your storytelling. So, let's dive deeper into each type, shall we?

First Person Point of View

Have you ever experienced something so exciting or interesting that you just had to share it with someone? When you do, you usually tell the story from your perspective, right? That's basically what the first person point of view is all about in literature. It's the author telling the story from the perspective of a character within the story—sort of like the character is sharing their personal diary. This perspective often uses pronouns like "I" or "we".

What's the big deal with this perspective, you ask? Well, the first person point of view can create a deep connection between the reader and the character. It allows readers to see into the character's mind, to feel their emotions, and to experience their world in a very personal way. It can add a layer of authenticity and intimacy to the story, making it feel more real and relatable.

Imagine you're reading a story, and the main character says: "I felt my heart pounding in my chest as I sprinted towards the finish line. The cheers of the crowd were a distant blur. All I could hear was the thump-thump-thump of my heartbeat."

Feels pretty intense, doesn't it? That's the power of the first person point of view. It puts you right in the action, making you feel like you're living the story. But remember, just like with any tool, it's all about how and when you use it. So, next time you're writing a story, think about whether the first person point of view is the best choice for your narrative.

Second Person Point of View

Picture this: you're reading a book, and suddenly it's telling you what you're doing, what you're thinking, and even what you're feeling. Sounds a bit strange, right? This is what's known as the second person point of view. It's a unique approach in storytelling where the author speaks directly to the reader using pronouns like "you", "your", and "yours".

While the second person point of view isn't as commonly used as the first or third person perspectives, it can add a unique twist to your story. It has the power to pull readers directly into the narrative, making them active participants rather than just observers. It's like the book is giving you a role to play in the story, which can be a pretty exciting experience.

Consider this sentence: "You walk into the dimly lit room, your heart pounding in your chest. A strange sense of dread washes over you as you see the shadowy figure at the other end."

Reading that, didn't you feel a bit like you were in that room, feeling that sense of dread? That's the magic of the second person point of view. It can transform a simple reading experience into an immersive adventure. But remember, it's not always the best choice for every story. Make sure to consider whether it fits the narrative and style of your story before using it.

So, next time you're looking for a way to shake up your storytelling, why not give the second person point of view a try? You might be surprised at the unique narrative experience it can create.

Third Person Point of View

Have you ever read a book and felt like an invisible observer, following the characters and their actions from an outside perspective? This is the essence of the third person point of view. This viewpoint allows you to see the characters' actions, hear their dialogue, and sometimes, even get a peek into their thoughts and feelings.

When we talk about the definition of point of view in literature, the third person is often the first that comes to mind. This is because it's the most commonly used perspective in storytelling, especially in novels. It offers a flexibility that the first and second person perspectives can't match.

Imagine watching a movie. You see the characters, their actions, their surroundings — everything. You're not limited to the knowledge or experiences of a single character. You, as a reader or viewer, have a broader view of the story. This is similar to how the third person point of view works.

Here's an example: "John walked into the room, his eyes scanning the unfamiliar surroundings. He didn't notice Mary, who was watching him from behind a bookshelf, her heart pounding."

Notice how you can see both John and Mary's actions? That's the beauty of the third person point of view. It allows you to shift focus between characters, providing a more comprehensive view of the story.

So, if you're writing a story and want to give your readers a broader perspective, consider using the third person point of view. It's a tried and true method that's sure to make your narrative more engaging and dynamic.

Third Person Omniscient

Think of yourself as a bird flying over a city, taking in the sights, sounds, and even the thoughts of the people below. This bird's eye view is what we call the third person omniscient point of view. This perspective allows the reader to know everything that's happening in the story, including the thoughts, feelings, and actions of all characters.

When discussing the definition of point of view, the third person omniscient is like the superhero of perspectives — it knows all and sees all. It provides a panoramic view of the story, without any restrictions.

For example, consider this scenario: "John was nervous about his first day at the new school. Meanwhile, his mother was at home, feeling worried and proud at the same time. Across town, his new teacher was preparing lesson plans, eager to meet her new student."

In this example, you're not just limited to John's thoughts and actions. You also know what his mother and his new teacher are thinking and doing. That's the third person omniscient for you — it gives you a complete, 360-degree view of the story.

If you're a writer aiming to provide a comprehensive view of your narrative, the third person omniscient perspective is your go-to. It gives you the freedom to dive into every character's mind and provides your readers with a complete understanding of the story.

Third Person Limited

Imagine if our bird from the last section decided to follow just one person in the city, paying attention to only their thoughts and actions. This is called the third person limited point of view. As the name implies, it's limited to the perspective of one character at a time.

The definition of point of view in this context means that the story is narrated from the viewpoint of one character. So, if we go back to the example of John, we might read something like this:

"John felt a knot in his stomach as he approached the towering school building. He could hear his own heartbeat echoing in his ears."

Notice how we're only privy to John's feelings and experiences? That's the magic of third person limited. Even though the story is narrated by an outside observer, we're stuck in John's world, feeling his emotions and experiencing his journey. We don't know what anyone else is thinking or feeling unless John interacts with them.

Third person limited can create a sense of intimacy and connection between readers and the character. This point of view can be particularly effective in suspenseful stories, where the author wants to maintain a sense of mystery and tension.

Remember, the key to a good story is making your readers feel what your characters are feeling. And the third person limited point of view is a great tool to make that happen!

Third Person Objective

So, we've followed a bird-eye view of the city, dived into the mind of one person, and now let's imagine if we were a fly on the wall. In the third person objective point of view, the storyteller becomes an invisible observer, who only reports what can be seen or heard, but not what characters are feeling or thinking.

The definition of point of view here is quite different from the earlier types. It's almost like a journalist reporting on events, without adding any personal commentary or insights.

Consider this example:

"John walked slowly towards the school. His face was pale, and his hands trembled slightly."

Here, we're only given the observable facts. We don't know how John is feeling or what he is thinking. Everything we know comes from his outward actions.

Using third person objective can create a sense of detachment. It's like watching a scene unfold from a distance without knowing the thoughts or feelings of the characters. For this reason, it's less common in fiction, but can be highly effective in certain types of storytelling — for instance, in a mystery where the author wants to keep the reader guessing.

It's all about using the right tools at the right time, and third person objective can certainly be a powerful tool in the right context. So, the next time you read a story, why not pay attention to the point of view and see how it shapes your experience?

Examples of Point of View

Now that we've got a solid handle on the definition of point of view, let's explore some concrete examples. We will go through each type of point of view we've discussed, using well-known pieces of literature as our guides.

For the first person point of view, let's look at "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger. It's a classic example where the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, narrates his own story. Here's a line from the book: "I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life."

Next, second person point of view isn't as common in literature, but it's used masterfully in "Bright Lights, Big City" by Jay McInerney. The book opens with: "You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning."

Moving on to third person point of view, "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling is a fantastic example. The story unfolds primarily through Harry's perspective, but not in his voice. Here's a piece from "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone": "Harry — yer a wizard."

For third person omniscient, "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen is a classic. The narrator knows all and tells us about various characters' thoughts and feelings. Here's an example: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Finally, for third person objective, an example can be found in "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway. The narrator describes what is happening without telling us what the characters are thinking or feeling. Here's a line from the story: "The girl stood up and walked to the end of the station."

These examples of different points of view in literature should give you a clear picture of how writers use this tool to shape their stories and the reader's experience. So next time you pick up a book, you'll be reading with an even deeper understanding!

If you enjoyed this blog post on understanding point of view and want to dive deeper into the subject, don't miss 'A New Perspective on Perspective' workshop by Roberto Bernal. This workshop will help you further explore different types of perspectives and their impact on storytelling, allowing you to refine your writing skills and enhance your stories.