Point of View

What is Point of View?

The term “point of view” has many applications, from video game development to the interpretation of art.  This page will discuss point of view as it pertains to the study of reading and literature. When studying the perspective of the narrator, the reader is concerned with the relationship between the person telling the story (the narrator) and the agents referred to by the story teller (the characters).

Modes of Narration

There are six key terms used in the study of narrative view point: first-person, second-person, third-person, third-person objective, third-person limited, and third-person omniscient.  Each term refers to a specific mode of narration defined by two things: the distance of the narrator from the story (the pronoun case) and how much the narrator reveals about the thoughts and feelings of the characters (narrative access).  Let’s take a closer look at each term.

First-Person Narration

In this mode, the narrator is usually the protagonist or central character in the story.  But even if this character is not the protagonist, he or she is directly involved in the events of the story and is telling the tale “first hand.”  First-person narration is easy to identify, because the narrator will be telling the story from “I’s” perspective.  Readers should watch for the narrator’s use of first-person pronouns- “I, me, my, our, us, we, myself, and ourselves,” as these will usually indicate that the passage is narrated from first-person perspective.  Remember, with this skill readers are trying to identify the perspective of the narrator; therefore, one must ignore the dialogue of characters (indicated by “quotation marks”) and solely focus on narration, otherwise one is not analyzing the narrator’s point of view.

Second-Person Narration

In this mode of narration “you” are the agent, such as in this example: you walked down the stairs.  As it is generally awkward for a story to be narrated from “your” perspective, this mode of narration is not used very often in narratives and stories.  There are some exceptions, however, and second-person perspective is the primary mode of narration for choose your own adventure books and similarly styled writings.  More frequently, directions and instructions and usually narrated from second-person perspective.  In most cases, directions will be written in short imperative sentences, where the implied subject is “you.”  But even when “you” is not explicitly stated, it is understood that “you” are the subject of directions and instructions.

Third-Person Narration

With this mode of narration, the narrator tells the story of another person or group of people.    The narrator may be far removed from or not involved in the story, or he or she may be a supporting character supplying narration for a hero.  Frequent use of “he, she, them, they, him, her, his, her, and their” by the narrator may indicate that a passage is narrated from third-person perspective.  There are three distinct modes of third-person narration: objective, limited, and omniscient. Which mode the narrator is using is determined by a single variable- how much the narrator accesses the thoughts, feelings, and internal workings of the characters and shares them with the reader through narration.  Characters’ feelings and motivations can be inferred and understood through their behavior and dialogue in each of the three modes of third-person narration; however, in determining which mode the narrator is operating, readers should be concerned with finding instances where the narrator explicitly reveals a character’s thoughts or feelings.

Third-Person Objective Narration

In this mode of narration, the narrator tells a third-person’s story (he, she, him, her), but the narrator only describes characters’ behavior and dialogue.  The narrator does not reveal any character’s thoughts or feelings. Again, readers will be able to understand characters’ thoughts and motivations based on characters’ actions and dialogue, which are narrated; however, the narrator will not explicitly reveal character’s thoughts and/or motivations in narration.

Third-Person Limited:

When a narrator uses third-person limited perspective, the narrator’s perspective is limited to the internal workings of one character.  In other words, the narrator reveals the thoughts and feelings of one character through explicit narration. As with objective narration, readers may be able to infer characters’ thoughts and feelings based on the behaviors and dialogue of those characters, which are narrated, but the narrator also directly reveals the central character’s internal perspective.

Third-Person Omniscient:

In this mode of narration, the narrator grants readers the most access to characters’ thoughts and feelings.  With third-person omniscient narration, the narration will reveal more than one characters’  internal workings. The base word omni means “all,” and scient means “knowing,” so omniscient roughly translates to “all knowing.”  In this case the etymology is accurate, because in omniscient narration, the narrator is all knowing.

Point of View Worksheets

Point of View Worksheet - Students read the passages and determine the narrative perspective based on clues in the passages. Then they should explain how they were able to identify the narrator’s point of view. 4 pages with 15 problems. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
Point of View Worksheet RTF
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Point of View Ereading Worksheet 1 | Multiple Choice Only
Point of View Ereading Worksheet 1 | With Long Responses

Point of View Worksheet 2 - Students read the passages and determine the narrative perspective. Then they should explain how they were able to identify the point of view. 4 pages with 15 problems. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8
Point of View Worksheet 2 RTF
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Point of View Ereading Worksheet 2 | Multiple Choice Only
Point of View Ereading Worksheet 2 | With Long Responses

Point of View Worksheet 3 – Read the passages, write the narrator’s point of view, and explain your answer. 2 pages and 6 problems. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8
Point of View Worksheet 3 RTF
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ereading worksheet

Point of View Worksheet 4 - Read the passages and determine the narrative perspective, then explain how you were able to identify the point of view. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10
Point of View Worksheet 4 RTF
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ereading worksheet

Point of View in the Works of Roald Dahl – Nine practice passages themed around the works of Roald Dahl. Students read each passage and determine whether narration occurs from first, second, or third-person perspective. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 2-6
Point of View in the Works of Roald Dahl RTF
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Point of View Worksheet 6 – Eight more practice problems where students read a paragraph of text and determine whether the narrator’s perspective is first-person, second-person, or third-person. Since students do not need to distinguish between objective, limited, and omniscient narrative modes, this worksheet is easier than some of the others. Also, students are asked to write their own paragraphs from first and third-person perspective at the end of the worksheet. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 3-7
Point of View Worksheet 6 RTF
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Point of View Worksheet 7 – Students identify the narrator’s point of view in a variety of passages and then explain their answers. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
Point of View Worksheet 7 RTF
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Point of View Student Examples Worksheet – Read the passages, underline the narrator’s thoughts and feelings, and determine the narrative viewpoint. Then explain your answer. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 2-6
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ereading worksheets

Point of View Activities

Point of View Flash Cards - Create a set of note cards to help you understand narrative perspective. Cards should include an example on one side and the name and definition on the other. Underline thoughts and feelings in your examples.
Point of View Flash Cards RTF
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Point of View Practice - Students pass around copies of books and attempt to identify the narrator’s perspective. You choose the 8 books they will be passing around. It is helpful if you have multiple copies of each book so that students may work in groups.
Point of View Practice RTF
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Point of View Lesson - Slide show covering the five narrative view points. Includes a practice activity at the end of the slide show with five questions.
Point of View Lesson PowerPoint
Point of View Lesson Web Page

Point of View Practice Questions - Students identify the narrative perspective in 10 examples from popular teen fiction. Students identify the narrator’s perspective and explain their answers.
Point of View Practice Questions PPT
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Point of View Manual Project – A project where students create a manual defining and demonstrating each point of view. Then they provide readers with instructions on how to identify the narrator’s perspective.
Point of View Manual RTF
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Point of View Tests

Point of View Quiz – A fifteen question multiple choice quiz with two forms assessing how well students can identify first, second, and third-person narration.
Point of View Quiz – Form A – RTF
Point of View Quiz – Form B – RTF
Point of View Quiz – Form A – PDF
Point of View Quiz – Form B – PDF
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Answers for Form B

Point of View Quiz 2- Fifteen question multiple choice quiz assessing understanding of narrative perspective. Students identify the narrator’s view point in a variety of examples and then match definitions to point of view terms. This quiz covers first-person, second-person, and all three modes of third-person narration.
Point of View Quiz 2 – Form A – RTF File
Point of View Quiz 2 – Form B – RTF File
Point of View Quiz 2 – Form A – PDF File
Point of View Quiz 2 – Form B – PDF File
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Common Core State Standards Related to Point of View

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 - Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Expand to View All Common Core State Standards Related to Point of View
ELA Standards: Language

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.6 - With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.6 - Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.6 - Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.6 - Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.6 - Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.6 - Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.6 - Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.6 - Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.6 - Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6 - Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6 - Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

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Common Core Lesson and Unit Plans
Understanding Common Core State Standards

 

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25 Comments

  1. Elysabeth

     /  March 2, 2011

    Do you have the answers for the answers for these worksheets? I was doing a lesson on POV with a class and for the practice questions – reading the excerpts from the 10 items – noticed that there are no answers to know which is correct. I’d appreciate answers being emailed to me if you have them. Thanks – E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-states, mystery, trivia series

    Where will the adventure take you next?

    Reply
    • Mr. Morton

       /  April 19, 2011

      Answers have been added. Also, so have ereadingworksheets. Check ‘em out.

      Reply
  2. Alicia Simmons

     /  June 11, 2012

    This is great and I believe this website will help me past my test.

    Alicia Simmons

    Reply
  3. Thank you for wonderful worksheets

    Reply
  4. Anya

     /  September 11, 2012

    Great thank you to whoever comes up with this! There is so much low quality material online out there that this is a true fresh breath of air!!!!!!! An excellent, well-thought through resource.

    Reply
  5. Naomi Koehler

     /  November 7, 2012

    Thank you!!! I’m an English education student. Please let me know how to cite your wonderful source of information so I can share it with other students. You ROCK!

    Reply
    • Thank you. Something like this would do, but I’m not grading it.

      Morton, Donzo. ereading worksheets. np. nd. Your date of access

      Reply
  6. Jennifer

     /  December 2, 2012

    Thank you – it is hard to find challenging reading resources and CCSS are on the way:)

    Reply
  7. i was wondering, what do you call it when the Point of view keeps changing? Like; “as soon as you tell anyone you’re..” to “I get a phone call about a van-load” Thank you for the info.

    Reply
    • That’s a great question. Generally, when we discuss point of view in literature, we are concerned with the point of view of the narrator, or the person telling the story. Because of this, we generally ignore dialogue or words that are surrounded in “quotation marks.” You will become quickly confused if you do not do this, because if you do account for dialogue, you will find that the point of view is constantly shifting. So, ignore the point of view of characters in the story, unless they are telling the story. Focus on the narration and the answer should become clear. I hope that this helps.

      Reply
  8. well i was confuse bout point of view now i know what to do . Thanks for putting down steps ( explaining ) it to me i didnt really understand at frist now i type get

    Reply
  9. Gaby

     /  August 28, 2013

    in this page, you didn’t discus how the point of view the author uses affects the reader, and how he/she feels in bias (how the story plays on your emotions). Like when everyone cried in Marley and Me

    Reply
  10. Christie

     /  September 26, 2013

    I have a question regarding the Omniscient narrator. I have always taught that the Omniscient narrator is found solely through narration by the ability to see into the hearts and minds of characters. Recently, a colleague disagreed by saying that you can determine a character’s thoughts by examinining their direct quotations. What is your opinion? I believe quotations are never used to determine omniscience, because quotations are observable by all.

    Reply
    • As I understand it, the omniscient narrator may reveal the thoughts and feelings of characters explicitly, by broadcasting their internal workings to readers. In objective narration, the narrator does not explicitly reveal characters thoughts, but as your colleague noted, readers can still infer what characters are thinking and feeling by the characters actions or dialogue; however, this does not make the narrator omniscient. I hope that this helps.

      Reply
  11. Laura

     /  January 22, 2014

    Awesome! How do you have the time? Thank you!!!

    Reply
  12. Kaley Marie Garmon

     /  February 21, 2014

    this is really helping me to get ready for the TABE test… but how do you know if its the author or the narrator?

    Reply
    • Well, it is always the narrator. Even if the author is speaking directly to the reader, he or she would still be the narrator. Sometimes the narrator has a persona that is very close to the author. In the case of an autobiography, the narrator is the author, but every story has a narrator. So, a story is always told by a narrator.

      Reply
  13. Solomon

     /  July 1, 2014

    In the section on third-person limited you say, “the narrator’s perspective is limited to the internal workings of one character. In other words, the narrator reveals the thoughts and feelings of one character through explicit narration.”

    Am I correct that this is per scene / chapter, and that the third-person through whose perspective the story is told can be changed with each chapter?

    Reply
    • I don’t believe so.
      “Omniscient” means all-knowing.

      An omniscient narrator can provide readers with thoughts and feelings of any or all characters, perhaps on a chapter by chapter basis.

      The limited narrator is limited to a single character’s perspective.

      Limited narration is more common in young adult literature.

      Reply
      • Solomon

         /  July 1, 2014

        So.. what if I want to tell a story from multiple points of view, none of which are omniscient? For example, in chapter 1 the story progresses from Mike’s perspective, while in chapter 2 from Judy’s perspective, along a similar timeline but possibly in different physical locations.

        Neither are omniscient; they each only know what they know, see what they see, feel what they feel, while also hearing / seeing what everyone else says / does, but not knowing what everyone else feels or thinks…

        Reply
        • Well, if you consider the totatlity of the narration, and you consider the narrator to be a single entity, then the narrator would be omniscient.

          If you consider the story to be a collection of different narratives, each with a distinct narrator who is limited to a single character, then you would be right.

          Coincidentally, it’s a matter of perspective.

          Reply
          • I suppose it could also be an omniscient narrator whose perspective is currently limited.

  14. Sandra Lawson

     /  August 23, 2014

    Thank you for including multiple grade leveled passages, differentiating, and labeling them. As an inclusion resource teacher, this aspect of your compilation of practice work is invaluable.

    Reply
    • Thank you for visiting. I am going to be doubling the amount of content in this section over the next two or three weeks. Come back soon.

      Reply

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