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First, Second, and Third Person

When to use the first, second, and third person point of view in your writing.

By
Geoff Pope, read by Mignon Fogarty,
January 20, 2011
Episode #259

Page 2 of 3

Second Person

You use the second-person point of view to address the reader, as I just did. The second person uses the pronouns “you,” “your,” and “yours.” We use these three pronouns when addressing one, or more than one, person. Second person is often appropriate for e-mail messages, presentations, and business and technical writing (3).

Here are two examples with the second-person point of view.

This is a singular second-person sentence:

Grandma,

Before you go to London, remember to leave your keys under the doormat. I’ll miss you. Sincerely yours, Anna

This is a plural second-person sentence:

Class, you need to be in your seats when the principal arrives. Tom and Jerry, I’m speaking to you as well. By the way, are these comic books yours? (Regionally speaking, in the American South you might hear a teacher say, “Class, y’all need to be in your seats….” “Y’all” is a contraction of “you all.”)

For additional clarification, here’s another table:

Second Person

(singular & plural)

Subjective Case

Objective Case

Possessive Case

you

you

your/yours

 (4)

And now to the third-person point of view.

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