What Is Third Person Narrative?

Third-person narrative is one of the most common techniques in storytelling. Although there are several types of third-person narrative, its common feature is that narration features third-person pronouns ("he" and "she"), as opposed to the first-person pronoun ("I").

Identification

Third-person narrative can be identified by looking at the pronouns used in the narrative. Third-person narrative uses "he," "she," "it" and "they," not "I" or "you."

Function

This form of narrative tends to offer the most objective view of a story because neither the narrator nor the reader are participants. Even in third-person narrative where subjective thoughts and feelings are known, they are generally contextualized by the thoughts and feelings of other characters.

Objective and Subjective

Objective third-person narration does not reveal anything internal about a character, reporting only what can be observed. Subjective narration uses the thoughts of a number of characters as a lens to relate and interpret events.

Omniscient and Limited

An omniscient narrator has access to all characters' perspectives at all times, as well as all events and times. A limited or closed narrative voice uses the thoughts of only one character to experience the events in the story.

Considerations

Occasionally, third-person narratives make limited use of other narrative voices, both first- and second-person. Occasional use of third-person draws the narrator into the story, while use of the second-person involves the reader as a participant.