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January 18, 2024

7 Essential Tips for Writing in the Third Person

7 Essential Tips for Writing in the Third Person

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Whether you’re a student, business professional, or writer, knowing how to write well in the third person is an essential skill.

But you may not be sure of all the rules or how to make your third-person writing shine.

As an editor and writing coach of 11 years, I’ve taught students and writers at all levels how to master the third-person point of view (POV). All you need to get started is a good understanding of third-person pronouns and a bit of practice for consistency. 

By the end of this article, you’ll know when and how to use third-person perspective. You'll also find helpful tips for taking your third-person writing to the next level.

Key takeaways 

  • In the third-person perspective, the narrator is separate from the story. 
  • Third-person perspective uses he/him/his, she/her/hers, and they/them/their pronouns. 
  • Consistency is key: Don’t switch between perspectives in a single document.
  • Practicing third-person writing and editing your work is vital to improving your skills.

What is third-person point of view (POV)?

In writing, there are three ways to tell a story: first-person, second-person, or third-person POV. 

First-person POV is from the narrator’s perspective: 

I saw the bird steal my sandwich, and I ran after it.”

Second-person POV is from the reader’s perspective: 

You saw the bird steal your sandwich, and you ran after it.”

Third-person POV, however, separates the narrator from the story and uses third-person pronouns (like he/him, she/her, and they/them) to describe events, actions, thoughts, and emotions. Characters are referred to by name or one of these pronouns: 

Alex saw the bird steal his/her/their sandwich, and he/she/they ran after it.”

Third-person POV is used in all kinds of writing — from novels to research papers, journalistic articles, copywriting materials, and more. Check out some examples below.

Examples of third-person perspective

  • In a novel: “Robb and Jon sat tall and still on their horses, with Bran between them on his pony, trying to seem older than seven, trying to pretend that he’d seen all this before.” (From A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin)
  • In a news article: “This weekend, Iceland experienced nearly 2,000 earthquakes within 48 hours. And they’ve kept coming since then – in swarms.” (From “Thousands of earthquakes have scientists watching for a volcanic eruption in Iceland” on NPR’s website)
  • In copywriting: “Balm Dotcom’s formula has antioxidants and natural emollients to nourish dry lips.” (Website copy describing Glossier’s Balm Dotcom lip product)

7 tips for writing in the third person

Just like the first and second person, you’ve probably already written in the third person before. But to do it well, you’ll need some key tips and tricks in your writing toolkit. 

Let’s dive into the seven essentials for third-person writing.

Tip 1: Use third-person determiners and pronouns 

In grammar, determiners introduce and modify nouns. They’re used to specify what a noun refers to (like “my laptop”) or the quantity of it (like “many sandwiches”). 

Meanwhile, pronouns are substitutes for nouns, referring to people, places, or things. For example, “Caroline [noun] is a skilled musician, and she [pronoun] especially loves playing the piano.”

When you write in the third person, use only third-person determiners and pronouns. Let’s take a look at the different types of pronouns. 

Tip 2: Use names for clarity

In third-person writing, using names is crucial for clarity, especially when multiple people/characters share similar pronouns. Strategically incorporate names into your writing to help readers keep track of who’s who. 

For example:


“She submitted the script draft to her, and she made suggestions for changes.”


“Mira submitted the script draft to Lynn, and Lynn made suggestions for changes.”

Tip: Use a character or person’s name when introducing them in your writing. Then, alternate between using pronouns and their name to prevent confusion.

Tip 3: Keep the narration neutral

When you write in the third person, your narrator is an uninvolved observer. They have no opinions on the people, places, things, or events they describe. Their words and tone should be neutral (but not boring).

To achieve this in your writing:

  • Think of your narrator as a reporter. Their job is to detail what’s happening, when and why it’s occurring, who’s involved, and any background information that can give context. They don’t offer a personal interpretation of events. Instead, they provide facts and supporting details.
  • Save the judgment for characters. Rather than having your narrator share their critique of events or individuals, have a character offer their opinion — either through dialogue, actions, or reactions. For instance, instead of writing, “Dr. Shaw was a courageous woman,” let a character convey admiration by telling Dr. Shaw, “I’ve always admired your fearlessness.”
  • Be objective with your descriptions. Avoid subjective adjectives and focus on observable features. For example, instead of describing a landscape as “breathtaking,” write that it’s “marked with snow-capped mountains and patches of tall pine trees.” 

Tip 4: Use descriptive language

Showing — and not just telling — is essential when writing in the third person. Instead of stating emotions and experiences outright, immerse your reader in your character’s reality. Create vivid descriptions of their thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. Use language that engages the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. 

For example: 


“Aisha was nervous.”


“Aisha’s hands trembled, and her tongue felt dry against the roof of her mouth. The spotlight above the stage shone white-hot, causing beads of sweat to form along Aisha’s hairline.”

Tip 5: Be consistent

Once you establish a third-person POV, stick to it. Avoid switching from the third person to the first or second person. Otherwise, you’ll confuse the reader and disrupt the flow of your writing.

For example:


“Hannah felt a surge of excitement when her telephone rang, anticipating good news about her mortgage application. I felt my heart rate quicken as I answered.” (Switches from the third person to the first person)


“Hannah felt a surge of excitement when her telephone rang, anticipating good news about her mortgage application. She felt her heart rate quicken as she answered.” (Remains in the third person)

Tip 6: Practice

Writing in the third person might feel strange at first, especially if you’re used to using the first or second person. However, it’ll come more naturally to you with practice.

Here are two writing exercises you can try right now:

Writing Exercise #1

Take an excerpt from an article or book written in the first or second person and rewrite it in the third person. Below is an example using The Catcher in the Rye, whose main character is named Holden.

Before: “The other reason I wasn’t down at the game was because I was on my way to say good-by to old Spencer, my history teacher.”

After: “The other reason Holden wasn’t down at the game was because he was on his way to say good-by to old Spencer, his history teacher.”

Writing Exercise #2

Turn on a movie or television show, mute the sound, and closely observe two characters. Give them each a name. Using third-person pronouns and their names, describe the characters’ actions and what you believe they’re thinking and feeling. 

Above all, write in the third person as often as possible, following the tips in this guide. Remember, your writing skills are like muscles: The more you exercise them, the stronger they become. 

Tip 7: Carefully revise 

After you’ve written something in the third person, carefully review and revise your work. 

Check that your writing:

  • Uses third-person determiners and pronouns accurately and consistently
  • Incorporates names where pronouns may cause confusion
  • Maintains a neutral tone, where your narrator doesn’t offer personal opinions or interpretations
  • Doesn’t shift to the first or second person

Make changes where necessary, then read through your work a final time.

AI tip: Wordtune can help you self-edit and help improve your writing overall.

Paste your work into Wordtune’s Editor, or write in it directly, and use the features to shorten or expand your sentences, make your tone more casual or formal, and more. Wordtune will also automatically flag spelling and grammar errors and suggest ways to improve concision, clarity, and flow.

The Casual button in Wordtune takes highlighted text and suggests more casual-sounding replacements.
The Casual button in Wordtune takes highlighted text and suggests more casual-sounding replacements.  

Bonus tip (advanced): Learn the different types of third-person POV

Did you know there are three types of third-person POV? Getting familiar with them can help you make your writing even more impactful.

They are:

  • Third-person objective, where the narrator is “a fly on the wall”: They provide an objective account of events without exploring people/characters’ emotions or thoughts.
  • Third-person omniscient, where the narrator has unlimited knowledge of all events and characters’ thoughts and feelings. 
  • Third-person limited, also called “close third,” where the narrator has access to just one character’s emotions, thoughts, and experiences. 

With this knowledge, you can choose the right perspective for your writing depending on its purpose, tone, and goals. 

For instance, use third-person omniscient to show readers what’s happening with everyone in your novel. Or, you could go for third-person objective in an academic paper where you must present facts without sharing your interpretation of them.


Writing well in the third person takes thought and effort. You must use third-person determiners and pronouns, weave in descriptive language, and keep your narration neutral. You also need to be consistent with your POV, ensuring you don’t accidentally switch to the first or second person. Finally, review and revise your work to make sure it’s clear and error-free. 

Using this guide — and Wordtune’s tools to polish your writing — you’ll get the hang of the third-person perspective in no time.

To continue sharpening your writing skills, read our articles on mastering tone of voice and writing concisely (with help from AI). Then, check out our proofreading guide to keep your work flawless


What is a third-person word example?

Third-person words are pronouns like “he,” “her,” “they,” “it,” “hers,” and “theirs.”

Should I write in the first or third person?

It depends on the closeness you want to create with your audience. The first person allows for a personal connection between the narrator and the reader, while the third person creates distance between the narrator and the audience.

What are the disadvantages of writing in the third person?

Third-person writing can lead to a lack of intimacy with the reader. This can be a disadvantage for some writers but an advantage for others, like those in academic and professional settings.