Third Person – In grammar, in narration, and in English

We explain what the third person is in grammar, in English and its other senses. Also, the third person narration.

third person
The third person is that which is outside the communication, even if it is talked about.

What is the third person?

The third person it is a subject, object, animal or referent that exists outside the communicative relationship there is between a sender (the first person, the one who says “I”) and a receiver (the second person, whom the sender refers to as “you”). That is, the third person is what we refer to with the pronouns he, she, they or they.

At the same time, it is common to speak of the third person to refer to a point of view, which is that of who observes a series of events without being part of them, that is, a witness. We can recognize this point of view in many literary and cinematographic stories and even in video games, when our gaze perceives the main character at all times and we accompany him in his actions.

In certain technical and professional languages, such as in the Law, third parties are referred to as “third parties” (as in: “please do not share this information with third parties”) or even as “third parties”. In other words, they are external entities, for example, to those who send and receive a private communication, or to the seller and buyer of a business. Third parties are those who are on the outside, those who are not part, those who are alien to the matter.

The third person grammar

Three fundamental grammatical people are handled in all languages, that is, three points of view regarding the use of language, which is reflected in grammar classes, like most pronouns. We can understand it as the points of view that the language allows to handle.

Thus, there is always:

  • First person, the one that speaks for itself and responds to the personal pronoun “I”, although in plural cases “we” is used.
  • Second person, which is the interlocutor of the first and responds to the personal pronoun “tú”, although in plural cases “you” is used (or “you”, only in Spain).
  • Third person, that is anyone who is not part of the first two, and that responds to the personal pronouns “he” or “she”, and in the case of plural “they” or “they”.

This point of view in the language allows you to organize the sentence and choose the pronouns according to who speaks and of what. Thus, to refer to a woman we use “she”, while for a group of people of different sexes we use “they”, and for a male individual we use “he”. Similarly, in other communicative contexts, the third person grammar requires the use of other pronouns, as appropriate:

  • Accusative: lo, la, los, las. For example: “Did you see my cousins?” “The I saw the day before yesterday ”.
  • Data: le, les (and se to avoid cacophony). For instance: “You did you bring a gift to my mother? ” “Yes, I know I brought it”.
  • Possessive: his, his, his, hers. For example: “Here you go its wallet, ma’am “or” I think these bills are his, Mister”.
  • Reflective and reflections: yes, yes. For example: “Maria I know bathe in the sea “or” Pedro knows how to use Yes same”.

On the other hand, the most frequent appearance of the third person grammar is when conjugating a verb. We know that in this case we must pay attention not only to the grammatical time and mode (which indicate how and when the action is carried out), but also to the grammatical person (to know who does it). Thus, the regular conjugation of Spanish verbs for the third person is as follows:

Third person

Regular verbs ending in
-ar (to love)-er (to eat)-ir (to live)
singularhe / she amtohe / she comandhe / she livedand
pluralthey amanthey eatonthey will liveon

The third person grammar, then, It is used to talk about other people who are not us, nor our interlocutor. This is particularly useful when building narratives.

However, it is also central when writing certain specialized texts, such as academic papers, in which it is lackluster or disrespectful to the reader to use the first person, thus opting to tell what was done as if it had been done by someone else ( “The researchers”) or using impersonal language (“an experiment was done”).

The third person narration

The third person is fundamental for certain forms of narration, as we have said, that are distinguished from the first and second (the latter much rarer) in the point of view they take with respect to the events told.

A third-person narrator ties in with the events he tells as a witness: someone who observes what happens, but who is not the protagonist and may not even have to do with the events. For that reason, if he is “outside” the story, he is also known as an extradiegetic narrator.

Therefore, third person narrators refer to the protagonists of the story as third persons, that is, using their name or the pronouns and resources that the language provides for the third person grammar. However, you can do it in very different ways, and that is why there are three different types of third-person narrator, which are the following:

Omniscient narrator. The one who knows everything and sees everything, as if it were the eye of God within the story. It can go in and out of the heads of the characters, know what they thought, what they felt, and observe what happens in different places, but precisely for that reason it cannot have to do with anything in particular. He is the typical storyteller of fairy tales and children’s stories.

Witness narrator. Also called “metadiegetic”, the witness narrator is one who is immersed in the events related, without being the protagonist or the one who drives the action, but rather a spectator of the latter. In that sense, he has a specific and limited point of view, because he cannot know what he did not witness, and he does not know what other characters do not tell him about his feelings, for example. Depending on how you do it, in turn, we can talk about:

  • Witness character, when it comes to a character in history who tells what has happened to another.
  • Impersonal witness, when the narrator is not a character but an abstract witness, a look within the story.
  • Witness avec or with the character, when the narrator is not a character, but an entity that accompanies the protagonist and tells everything about him, as if he were a ghost that walks a step behind his shoulder.

Informant narrator. In this case, the narrator is fragmented into different records that tell about what happened, that is, documents, press clippings, third-party testimonies, and a long etcetera. In general, these are recompositions of what happened that are presented as authentic data or as an investigation into it.

The third person in English

third person english
In the English language, the third person has three singular pronouns and one plural.

In the English language, as in the Spanish, the third person is distinct and recognizable. For her personal pronouns are reserved i have (“he”), she (“she”), Item (“That”) or they (“them”), depending on whether it is singular or plural respectively. But when it comes to conjugating a verb, we must be guided by a fairly simple rule:

Third personVerb to beVerb to haveVerb to say
i haveishe hasssays
sheishe hasssays
Itemishe hasssays

On the other hand, for the third person the possessive pronouns apply his (he), her (she), its (it) and their (they), as well as the accusatives him, her and them. For example: “my father took his car to the beach, even though you asked him not to “.