When we’re writing anything be it a book, copy or a letter, we need to be aware of ‘the person’ we are writing in.
Proofreaders and writers already know a thing or two about grammar but getting the grammatical person wrong throughout any piece of work makes it look unprofessional.
In grammar, I like to think of the ‘person’ as a perspective. The different persons demonstrate different things like the audience being addressed or the person who is speaking. These persons are demonstrated by the use of pronouns and there are specific pronouns for each person.
Let’s look at them individually.
The First Person is the point of view of the author. I am demonstrating this person in this article. We (that’s a pronoun) use words like ‘I’, ‘us’ and ‘me’. The writer is therefore talking about their own point of view or their own experiences. So we use the first person when we want to show something as a personal experience or opinion.
The Second Person is used to address an audience. This will involve using pronouns like ‘you’ or ‘your’. It’s not used as much as the first person or the third person but it is needed when appealing directly to a reader or listener. It’s used mostly if the recipient is someone we know, for example, a colleague or a friend.
Now we move on to the Third Person. This is a standard grammatical tone that is used in the academic and business world. In reports or papers, the first person would generally be too subjective unless a person was describing their role in a project or experiment. The first person can also be used if a writer is comparing their viewpoint with that of other people.
Generally however, academic papers particularly relating to science or business reports, require to give the reader an objective viewpoint. The spotlight is on the content of the paper not on the person or persons who wrote the paper.
I hope that you’ve found this article useful. I’m a stickler for these details because I so often got this wrong in primary school! But practice makes perfect right? Please feel free to contact me about proofreading or writing work.
My experience and skills are varied: an executive PA in London and Australia; I have worked exclusively in a Secretariat co-ordinating Board meetings, agendas and minutes and parliamentary enquiries; campaign executive for an animal welfare NGO in Singapore; an interior decorator consulting for a large paint company and have project managed 2 large personal renovation projects.
I am also a professional Artist and still practice and exhibit. My Art company is called “Ocean Sun Design” and you can check it out here https://www.facebook.com/OceanSunDesign/
My interests include marine conservation and cetacean advocacy. I have been a Scuba Diver for years and am qualified to Rescue Diver level (meaning I’m fabulous to have in a tight spot and I don’t panic – trust me!). I also love reading, writing, cooking and hiking.
- Diploma in Public Administration
- Certificate IV in Interior Decoration and Design
- Diploma of Visual Arts
- Advanced Diploma of Creative Product Development
- Diploma of Justice.