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 are 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,” and “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 and you tell your friend 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 a way of 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 in Great
Expectations tells us his story, we believe that he’s telling us things pretty much the
same way we’d see them. He, naturally, has things he doesn’t see 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 the character is immature or intellectually undeveloped, like the developmentally delayed
character, Charlie, in 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 that 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 is 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’s Reached. One chapter is 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 that “Doris did this,” “He said to Doris,” or “She shook his hand.” That’s third person. The three main kinds of third-person POV are omniscient, limited, and objective. “Omni” means “all” and
“scientia” means “knowledge.” So, an omniscient narrator
literally knows everything about what’s going on in the story. (chainsaw sound effect) He or she can know what
a character is thinking, or what all 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 the 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, after all, is like the God of
his or her 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 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 what 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 the surface, like you would do 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 about. 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 reader’s 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’s 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 1) reliable first-person, in which a character in the story tells you the story in a reliable way; 2) unreliable first-person, in which you have a character in the story telling
it to you with distortion of some kind; 3) omniscient third person, that’s the all-knowing God-like narrator; 4) limited third-person in which
we see the story through a third-person
narrator who only knows what the main character knows; and 5) 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, then to be consistent. It’s a common error for new fiction writers to 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 a 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 is 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, good luck with your assignment!

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100 Responses

  1. Jeroen van den Raadt says:

    Intro song name?

  2. Gustavo Pomar says:

    Having to learn this stuff at 63 y/o is a mess.

  3. Lola Patterson says:

    thank you so much , my teacher is giving me my test on pov but she has not give me the information this has help thank you

  4. Anita King says:

    I am writing my story as a omniscient narrator and people keep telling me that, it's not done that way.  I am confused.  I am the narrator and I am telling all the characters point of view.  Why do I get such opposition?

  5. Cecilia Goodale says:

    Wow! It's so easy to understand! Thank you very much.

  6. Jason Bach says:

    This is great it really helped with my assignment.

  7. RYAN HANSON says:

    You sound like Sheldon

  8. Andrew Jenkins says:

    awesome but boring

  9. Happy Naturalist says:

    Great information, and wonderful real-life application at the end.

  10. Jennie GotSass says:

    I think this will really help me on my test tomorrow! Thank you so much!😊

  11. Envoy Roth says:

    chainsaw noise is distracting

  12. GabriellaMZ says:

    Excellent explanation.

  13. Kazuha San says:

    The Sniper is a nice story.

  14. Cozy Crimson says:

    This was helpful for a paper I’m writing thanks!

  15. Yasmeen Sanad says:

    Thank you so much. This was very helpful <3

  16. Matthew Beck says:

    you suck

  17. 林恩兆 says:


  18. Eric C says:

    this helped me with my focus area

  19. Vanessa Peterman says:

    Thanks so much!

  20. Trinity Jenkins says:

    it was great

  21. Caleb Maley says:

    good vid

  22. Jackeline MejiaLopez says:

    u didnt help me at all no thank u

  23. Isaiah Kauffman says:


  24. Isaiah Kauffman says:

    good one learned a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Angel Renteria says:

    Where did this come from?

  26. mycah johiro says:


  27. Brendan Ward says:

    5:35 – "who it was", not "whom it was".

  28. Reese Lett says:


  29. Carys Wagnell says:

    home slice

  30. Jose Pelayo says:

    i really needed all this stuff

  31. Tiki Lime Life says:

    This was very informative. Thank you!

  32. world of everything says:

    can you speak well

  33. ToxIC EKO says:

    You’re honestly better than my teacher lol. Keep it up

  34. Legendary Detective Wobbuffet says:

    If you're Japanese though I guess that makes sense since Japanese doesn't really have a Second person narrative.

    As far as English goes, writing is a skill, so Second person just needs to be worked at to get good at it.

  35. Brett Harman says:

    Great video mate!

  36. Alrighty Then! says:

    You're good.

  37. Raed Eltantawy says:

    Great ..tnx for your great effort

  38. BRAYDEN STIER says:

    LOV IT

  39. BRAYDEN STIER says:

    Amazing I love these vids and would like you to post more who

  40. Hawkins says:

    This is a really informative video about the 5 main types of narrative point of view.

  41. eatsleepplayrepeat says:

    I like the 3rd POV objective, it's almost like a camera in the form of words.

  42. Junior Fuentes meza says:


  43. Junior Fuentes meza says:

    the best narrator is the dog bermudez

  44. Qusaay Kahla says:

    Well explained

  45. APStephens says:

    Omniscient all the way! 🙂

  46. Joseph Babu says:

    you can have a second person where the main character is part of the story and you are part of it but not the main character. but mostly used in childrens shows like Dora.

  47. Chris Graham says:


  48. marmoto liferider says:

    why the fuck does this have 188 dislikes? Its a really good explanation and summary!

  49. kamsaha keonhee says:

    U explain it more deeper than my teacher

  50. Emily Baltazar says:

    Cool to watch!

  51. Greg Stewart says:

    Gun fymngfggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh

  52. YO. M_77 says:

    What is PHANTOM POV ?

  53. Benedict Ybañez says:

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

  54. Bassam Alkhan says:


  55. Flavia Nagy says:

    Lol my teacher assigned this vid for hw


  56. Xavier Alviso says:

    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

  57. Xavier Alviso says:

    this was gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!! this is the best

  58. Katerina Körmendi says:

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

  59. Thu Nell Ⓥ says:

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

  60. JAMESE CARTER says:

    i like your vodio say think u

  61. Cloud9Slime Shop says:

    Who's watching in 2018? lol

  62. Burble the Whale says:

    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

  63. MARIO GORDON says:

    LOV IT🙂

  64. Aspen Antoinette says:

    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.

  65. Koby Robertson says:


  66. Tyler Chiroy says:


  67. Koby Robertson says:

    thx for da help I GUESS

  68. Angelica Sanchez says:

    i dont like the video is puek

  69. Andrew Cunningham says:

    how bad 🙂

  70. Joshua Jimenez Ruiz says:

    i dont like school

  71. Maximus Ebert says:


  72. DEGAN BOYLE says:

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

  73. Tao ako Boii says:

    proud from seton whooo

  74. CustomlyCool says:

    Whos watching from CMS?

  75. CustomlyCool says:

    The music is also lit. 🔥

  76. Red Mist Squidward says:

    Second person is if you are multiple characters!

  77. Daughter of God says:

    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😊

  78. MikiYOD YT says:

    lol seen better

  79. Samuel Moore says:

    me stuiped

  80. Kylei Franks says:

    The Sherlock part was the best part

  81. LIA says:


  82. مالك دخل says:

    Thank you, I have an unit exam next Monday

  83. nancy love says:

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

  84. Springtrap says:

    Third-person Mobambnoscient

  85. ꧁*.• { L E X I } •.*꧂ says:

    Thank you so much! This helped me a lot!

  86. LLgirly Tomboy says:

    um what about second person?

  87. Rosim Shamdin says:

    Wow, very good it helped me a lot

  88. QUINTON CUTLER says:

    your trash

  89. QUINTON CUTLER says:


  90. IAN ROSAS says:

    im confused

  91. Sadaf Haddad says:

    The school teacher switched between limited and objective third person point of view. So she basically explained limited as objective and objective as limited. I don’t know which one to follow !

  92. Master Blackthorne says:

    Thank you, Mr. Sato. I hope this helps my writing as I suffer from shifting points of view.

  93. Mr. President says:

    Gotta love a teacher that just gives packets and links to teach their students. Thanks Mr. Wise…

  94. Nour Ayman says:

    What a video! It summed up all the types of POVs in a really simple and clear way. Thank you for this amazing video. Your voice is so soothing tbh.

  95. albukai gaming says:

    How many of you are here because of your stupid teacher.

  96. MatthiasAleki Vaka says:

    uh oh poopy stinky funny

  97. Raymiel Comia says:

    very nice

  98. Melisa Jacinto says:


  99. Molly Engebretson says:

    if you need help for point of view this is grate for you

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