POV: Point of View

hey this is mr. Sato here to explain point of view narrative point of view or POV is simply the perspective from which the story is told in other words who is telling the story there are two basic kinds of POV first person and third person and within those two kinds or a few variations so we'll talk about five different kinds altogether first person narration is when a character in a story is narrating it so if a character in the story is telling you what's going on I did this he said to me he shook my hand then it's a first-person narrator it's first-person POV an advantage of first-person is that it most closely resembles the way stories are told in everyday life right you come to school you tell your friends about something that happened to you that's like first-person POV another advantage is you get a strong sense of the narrating character's personality so using first-person point of view is also with fully developing that character now a first-person narrator can be reliable or unreliable a reliable narrator is telling us what's happening in a way that we believe is true and undistorted most first-person narrators are reliable when Pip and Great Expectations tells us his story we believe that he's telling us things pretty much the way we'd see them he naturally has things he doesn't see it or doesn't know like what another character is thinking but what he does see he sees without distortion an unreliable narrator is one who can't be relied on to tell us the truth the way we'd see it it could be a character is immature or intellectually undeveloped like the developmentally delayed character Charlie and flowers for algernon in that book Charlie describes people he thinks are his friends but we can see that they're just making fun of him and having a laugh at his expense so he's an unreliable first-person narrator he's not lying to us but he isn't able to give us the whole picture if the narrator is lying to us that's also an unreliable narrator a well-known example is the tell-tale heart by Edgar Allan Poe our narrator starts out telling us not to think he's mad mad mad I say and sets out to prove to the reader how sane he is but before you're halfway into the story it's clear that this guy's off his rocker so first-person narrators can be fun that way another fun trick is to tell the story with alternating first-person narration you've probably seen books like this like Ally Condie has reached one chapters told from one character's POV the next chapter is told from someone else's that way you get to see the story from multiple perspectives that can be tricky too but it's a great way to get all the benefits of first-person narration while still giving your reader a more complex perspective on the story's events one last note on first-person point of view the narrator is usually the main character though sometimes it's an important character who is witnessing what happens to the main character like Sherlock Holmes assistant dr. Watson tells the story of Sherlock's investigations but you'd never say Watson was the main character right Sherlock Holmes is the main character even though Watson narrates traditionally most stories used to be third-person pov this is when the narrator is a voice outside the story the narrator tells us Doris did this or he said to Doris or she shook his hand that's third person the three main kinds of third person point of view are omniscient limited and objective Omni means all and CN Tia means knowledge so an omniscient narrator literally knows everything about what's going on in that story here so you can know what a character is thinking or what all of the characters are thinking or even what an inanimate object feels if that's what the writer wants the omniscient narrator can know that Bob hid something in a room when there's no other character around to see him do it this kind of narrator can even know what will happen to characters in the future if the writer so chooses it's like the voice of an all-knowing God floating over the action leading you through the narrative the writer afterall is like the god of his or her own fictional universe so naturally the third-person narrator is often thought to be the voice of the writer but this isn't necessarily so not all the time if an author writes that her character did something you shouldn't assume that it's the author speaking to you it's just the voice of the narrator that's why when we write about literature we don't say the author says this or that we say the narrator says it this is important because a narrator can suggest things that the author himself doesn't believe or not know something that the author does know and that leads us to the limited third person POV this is a character outside the story too but this one only knows that the main character thinks and knows if the character doesn't know who's hiding around the corner then the narrator doesn't either this can be really useful like in the short story the sniper by Liam O'Flaherty when we are meant to be surprised by the identity of the second sniper we learn who it is only when the main character does if we'd known all along whom it was it would be a very different and less interesting story even more limited is the objective POV this is when the third-person narrator describes what's happening but doesn't know what anyone is thinking not even the main character it's like a video camera that records the events but only sees the factual surface of the events and lets you the reader infer what's going on beneath that surface like you would do it in real life a well-known example of this is Ernest Hemingway's story Hills like white elephants the narrator tells us what the characters say but doesn't explain what they're talking well it doesn't say what the relationship is between the characters or what kind of operation the woman is going to have because it only knows what can be observed with the five senses the objective point of view allows no opinions from the narrator or insights into why characters do what they do figuring that stuff out is the readers job like it is in real life now you may be wondering if there's a first person and a third person then why isn't there a second person that's an intelligent question there actually is a rarely used second person POV it's when you are the main character like in Jay McInerney x' novel bright lights big city where the narrator says things like you get in your car and start the engine you drive down the highway thinking about your ex-girlfriend a car cuts you off in traffic this is really hard to do well and I generally don't recommend it most of the time when I read second person POV I keep thinking no I didn't don't tell me I said that that's not my girlfriend it can be very distracting so attempt it at your own risk so to review the main kinds of point of view are one reliable first person in which a character in the story tells you the story in a reliable way two unreliable first person in which you have a character in the story telling it to you with distortion of some kind three omniscient third person that's the all-knowing godlike narrator for limited third-person in which we see the story through a third person narrator who only knows what the main character knows and five objective third person where the narrator just describes things like a hidden camera would without commentary and lets the reader put the pieces together if you're writing the story the important thing about POV is to figure out who can best tell your story and then to be consistent it's a common error for new fiction writers just sort of drift from one POV to another whenever it's convenient skilled writers can switch up the POV like this sometimes but they don't do it accidentally they do it to achieve a specific effect but that's a pretty advanced technique if you're studying in narrative written by someone else try to keep in mind who's telling it to you and what the limitations and advantages of that POV are and one last thing understanding narrative POV is a valuable critical thinking skill incredibly useful in real life for example when an advertiser tells you that its product is great or when a politician tells you the country is on the wrong track it's important to remember who's telling you this and what that person's motives might be or when a friend tells you someone said something you might want to ask yourself how he or she knows this or what the limitations of that person's knowledge are and when you have to put together a complete picture from incomplete information you'll have had practice doing this from reading literature understanding point of view means seeing the whole picture and not just passively accepting a narrative the way it's told to you and that's important stuff all right well good luck with your assignment

39 thoughts on “POV: Point of View

  1. I have staar tmrw and im just extra reviewing lol thanks for this i was super iffy about this topic thank uuu

  2. This was very helpful information, thank you. …..No I didn't that's not my girlfriend, don't tell me I did that …lol thanks for the laugh, I needed to relax taking a five from study. New sub here😊

  3. I under stand this more than when someone else tryes to teach me it. thanks

  4. I'm so torn. Im in the early works of a series I'm writing. I havent written a word of it yet, ive just been working out the world and characters etc. It's centered in a fantasy universe with two main characters that switch pov every other chapter. My plan is for the first book to be an emotional journey that changes the characters significantly. I feel like a 3rd person pov would be good to show the actions of the characters. But I want it to be personal. So I'm a little torn.

  5. Hey, I'm not sure if anyone was looking for a different explanation, but I have one. If you happened to be wondering about "point of veiw" as differnt "persons" (like 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person) I have a way to explain them simply, as they can all be used in any kind of story.

    1st person: As described in the video, this is from the protagonist's point of veiw. You would write things like "I" and "me." This is a common way to tell a story.

    2nd person: Not described in the video; 2nd person is used as if you were speaking to another person, or like you were a "second person." The word that is often used would be "you." Though not seen very often, this can be a very powerful POV in a story if used correctly.

    3rd person: The video probably explains this better than me, but this is basically just a narrator. Common words used in a 3rd person are "they," "he," "she" or "it." Just like 1st person, this is a very common way to tell a story.

    4th person: This is where things get difficult and a little opinionated. POVs are kinda like dimensions; when we get to the 4th one things get a little messy. I've heard others say that 4th person is where you use all the point of veiws and switch between during the story. I don't think that fits though. Going by the logic of the previous point of views, a "4th person" should act as a 4th person telling the story. When there's 4 people, it is usually described as a group. So, 4th person should be tould like the characters are always in a group, using "we" and "us." These words CAN be used in a 1st person story, but a 4th person story uses these words as constants, as they're the basis of the POV. This POV is very uncommon because it only works in certain scenarios that usually don't use it the same way 1st person stories do.

    5th person: THIS is where I believe you should be switching between POVs. If we use the logic of the previous POVs, then every point of veiw after 4th person would all be the same as they're all groups. This can sound like a bad idea from a storytelling perspective because every POV would be jumbled together, but I'm sure if someone was dedicated enough, they could make a VERY interesting story using this format.

    6th person?: If we were to continue, I don't think any of the POVs would work for a story. I believe 6 and beyond would most likely be what textbooks, news articles and persuasive paragraphs use. This is because they merely state facts and opinions, not a story.

    0th person: This is going to seem very confusing, but stay with me. I DO believe a 0th person is possible. If a 1st person is from the perspective of 1 person, then 0th person should be the perspective of no people. So this would be like 6th person and beyond but somehow used in a story. You might be thinking that this would just be an 3rd person omniscient narrator, but this is a bit different. In 3rd person, there's still someone describing what is happening. In 0th person, I believe it's more similar to 1st person but without any of the "me"s or "I"s. It would be like a perspective from a character, but that character doesn't really exist in their own mind. This is very difficult to explain because it's also very difficult to use. If someone were somehow able to write a full story in 0th person, I would be shocked beyond belief due to its immense difficulty.

    So, that's about it. I hope I was able to help someone looking for this information

  6. the last part of the video was actually containing a serious life lesson… great stuff. subscribed.

  7. Very clear and concise. Thank you for the POV definitions.

  8. this was gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!! this is the best

  9. This is so helpful,now i get it.1st person is I,me or my i know that but now i understand better. you say it so i can understand.need this because we are doing this in class.by the way i in 5th grade.i thing i understand with pov

  10. You forgot the SECOND PERSON point of view, this point of view uses the words you or you’re or yours

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