What Does 'First Person' Mean? (with Examples)

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First Person

The term "first person" refers to the speaker himself or a group that includes the speaker (i.e.," I," "me," "we," and "us").

first person in grammar

"First person" most commonly appears in the phrases "first-person narrative," "first-person point of view," and "first-person shooter."
  • First Person Narrative. A first-person narrative is one that uses the word "I" (and sometimes "we"). In other words, the storyteller gives a personal account.
  • First Person Point of View. The first-person point of view is a view through the storyteller's eyes.
  • First Person Shooter. First-person-shooter games are a genre of shooting games in which players see the world through the eyes of their on-screen character.
Read more about first-person-shooter (FPS) games.

First Person in Grammar

In grammar, the personal pronouns ("I," "you," "he," "she," "it," "we," "you," "they") are grouped into one of three categories:
What is first, second, and third person in grammar?

Note: Second person refers to the speaker's audience (i.e., "you"). Third person refers to everybody else (e.g., "he," "him," "she," "her," "it," "they," "them"), including all other nouns (e.g., "Craig," "Germans," "ant," "mice").

Examples of First Person Pronouns in Different Cases

Here are the first person pronouns in the subjective case, the objective case, and the possessive case:
PersonSubjective CaseObjective CasePossessive Case
Possessive Determiner
Possessive Case
Possessive Pronouns
First Person Singular I

Example: I like cheese.
me

Example: He likes me.
my

Example: This is my car.
mine

This is mine.
First Person Plural we

Example: We hate celery.
us

Example: They hate us.
our

Example: This is our house.
ours

Example: This is ours.

First, Second, and Third Person Pronouns

The table below shows the first, second, and third person pronouns. The first person pronouns are shaded.
PersonSubjective CaseObjective CasePossessive Case
Possessive Determiner
Possessive Case
Possessive Pronouns
First Person Singular I me my mine
Second Person Singular you you your yours
Third Person Singular he/she/it him/her/it his/her/its his/hers/its
First Person Plural we us our ours
Second Person Plural you you your yours
Third Person Plural they them their theirs

Why Should I Care about the First Person?

Here are three good reasons to care about the first person.

(Reason 1) In business writing, the first person adds a personal touch.

In business, writing in the first person (i.e., using "I" and "we") portrays a personal touch and shows that you accept responsibility. For example:
  • We will handle your claim within 24 hours.
  • I will send you the results this afternoon.
Conversely, if you want to present a formal air, write in the third person (i.e., by using "he/she/it," "they," or nouns). For example:
  • Marks Ltd will handle your claim within 24 hours.
  • They will send you the results this afternoon.
  • (Writing in the third person is also useful for putting some distance between you and the message recipient, which could be useful for swerving blame.)
Learn how to avoid blame even more effectively with the passive voice.

(Reason 2) Your readers will connect quickly to a story told in the first person.

Writing in the first person will help your readers to engage not only with the main character but also with those the main character meets. Below are four good reason to tell stories in the first person.

A first-person narrative:
  • Helps your readers to establish an immediate connection with the character because the character's thoughts and emotions are not expressed through a third party (i.e., someone else).
  • Makes the story more believable because readers feel that they are being told the story by the person who experienced it.
  • Allows your readers to quickly establish the nature of the relationships with other characters in the story as they described more directly than through a third party.
  • Allows the author to get inside the character's head, which helps with developing and describing ideas and emotions.

(Reason 3) "Between you and I" is ALWAYS wrong!

Many people say "between you and I." This is always wrong.
  • Let's keep this matter between you and I.
  • Between you and I, I think it's a shambles.
It's "between you and me."

This is the most common mistake involving the first-person pronoun "I." Here are links to two other issues related to first-person pronouns:

Read about "you and I," "you and me," and terms like "my wife and I."
Read about incorrectly using "myself."

A Video Summary

Watch a video summarizing "grammatical person" (i.e., first person, second person, and third person)

Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

What are personal pronouns? What is the second person? What is the third person? What is the subjective case? What is the objective case? What is the possessive case? What are possessive adjectives? What are absolute possessive pronouns? The different types of pronouns Glossary of grammatical terms