First, Second, Third Person

Grammatical Person


In English the only change made to a verb in simple present is, adding an 's' for third person singular. Many people make errors with this. They seem to have difficulty recognising the grammatical person of the subject, especially third person. The following is to help avoiding this error by making it simpler to recognise third person.
In languages one can see how humans are extremely egocentric. Everything is divided into three categories: First, Second and Third Person.



First person singular; the most important is:
I
 
I
am the centre of the universe.



Second person; the second most important is:
you
  the one that
I
talk to.



Third person is:
all the rest,
everything that's left over.
Everything that's not
I
not
you



Third person is for example:
"the dog",
"my mother",
"her father",
"a bee",
"a symbiotic bacteria",
"a chair",
"my exgirlfriend's plan to visit Paris next month",
"the neighbour"
, and, even
"god"
; some people write "God" with a capital letter, but it is third person.

This reduces the problem of recognising third person singular to two simple questions.
Is it 'I'? Yes: first person.
No: is it 'you'? Yes: second person.
If it is not 'I' not 'you' then it is third person.


Ton van Hattum


First published: 21/8/06
Last update: 28/12/07