A first-person narrative is a way of storytelling through the narrator’s point of view. It uses first-person pronouns such as ‘I,’ ‘me,’ and ‘we.’

Along with the first-person narrative, there is second person, where the writer uses second-person pronouns such as ‘you.’

There is also a third person, where the story is told by an outsider watching things unfold. This uses third-person pronouns such as ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and ‘they.’

Examples of First Person

The best way to help pupils recognize the first-person narrative is to get them to identify if first-person pronouns have been used. These include:

  • I/We (subject, singular/plural) For example:

‘I like going shopping.’ (first-person singular)

‘We like going shopping.’ (first-person plural)

  • Me/Us (object, singular/plural) For example:

‘Harry smiled at me.’

‘Harry smiled at us.’

  • Mine/Ours (possessive, singular/plural) For example:

‘That food is mine.’

‘That food is ours.’

  • My/Our (possessive, modifying a noun, singular/plural) For example:

‘I love my dog.’

‘I love our dog.’

How is First Person used?

Sentences and stories can be written in the first person and told through the lens of a character in the story. This character is typically the main character: the protagonist.

The aim of using the first-person narrative is to make the reader feel close to the character effectively.

This is because, through their journey, the characters often reveal truths about themselves using first-person pronouns. As a result, the character’s thoughts and emotions are at the forefront of the narrative, ready for the reader to see them.

Writing in the first person allows the reader to understand the character’s thoughts and opinions on other characters and events happening in the story.

Why is First Person effective?

Having a first-person narrative can be a very effective technique – it allows the reader to get inside the character’s head and watch the story unfold through their eyes.

It also gives a sense of ‘being there,’ which makes the story more engaging for the reader. This contrasts with a third-person narrative, where the character is seen through a separate narrator’s point of view. First-person closes the gap between the reader and the character, allowing them to experience the story more closely.

First-person, second-person, and third-person can all be effective ways to write a story differently – it just depends on the particular level you’re trying to tell.

How do you write in First Person?

Writing in the first person can be completely different from writing in the third person, whether you’re writing a story or a diary entry.

Not only are you using different pronouns, but the writing style can also change. For example, rather than writing from an objective, third-person point of view, you’re in the character’s mind, expressing their direct thoughts to the reader.

Before children write their story or diary entry in the first person, you might want to share some tips with them. Here are some that they might find helpful:

  1. Establish the character’s voice.

When writing in the first person, the main character does all the talking! That’s why it’s important to know what they sound like, how they talk and how they feel before writing. For example, does the character talk formally or informally? Are they shy or confident?

  1. Decide if the narrator is reliable.

The character’s thoughts and feelings influence how we write in the first person. Therefore, before writing, it’s essential to decide whether the reader can trust what the narrator is saying – are they telling the truth, or do they tend to exaggerate or underplay things? This is especially important for diary entries, where the text should recount specific events.

  1. Use the active voice.

The active voice is important for creating engaging, first-person writing. Since it’s in the first person, the narrator should carry out actions themselves rather than simply having things happen to them.

  1. Past or present tense?

Just like the second or third person, we can write in the past or present in the first person. But it’s a good idea to decide which one before writing. Writing in the present tense helps bring the reader closer to the action and the character’s reactions, but an essay in the past tense allows the narrator to express their thoughts and feelings retrospectively.

  1. Remember ‘I,’ ‘me,’ and ‘my.’

When learning to write from different points of view, many children might slip between first and third person without realizing it. Children should remember to check their writing to ensure they’ve used first-person pronouns to refer to the narrator/main character throughout their work.

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