Playing with person

In this exercise, students make changes to pronouns in texts, and evaluate the effects of those changes.

Goals

  • Identify first, second, and third person pronouns, and practise switching from one to another.
  • Evaluate the effects of writing using different personal pronouns.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will make changes to existing texts by changing the personal pronouns in those texts.

Writers often use particular perspectives in their work to create different effects, so while a third person narration allows a writer to describe the actions of someone else and perhaps convey a sense of their surroundings in more detail, a first person narration can often be more involved and allow a reader to see through the eyes of the narrator.

Pronouns can be used to address others directly:

  • How can you help?

to create a sense of shared identity:

  • We all know that chips are tasty but not very good for us.

and to create third person narration:

  • With a nervous look over her shoulder she stepped into the darkness.

In the slides in the Activity page in the right hand menu, students can view a series of texts that use pronouns. Ask the students to transform texts from one perspective to another, thinking about how the pronouns need to be changed to reflect this, but more importantly, how changing the pronouns changes the way the reader might interpret the writing.

Slide 1 is an example of a first person monologue. What does the first person narration allow this monologue to do that wouldn’t be as easy in a third person narration? Now, ask students to try writing extract 1 as a third person narrative. What changes do they make in the new version and what differences appear in the story?

Slide 2 is an example of a third person narrative from a short story. Try rewriting this text as a first person monologue. Then continue the story, again using a first person monologue. What is the effect of choosing first person?

It’s not just literary texts that make use of different narrative perspectives. Many non-fiction texts do this too, and we can see that many advertisements use the technique effectively. Look at slide 3 and see what you make of the switch from third person into first person and what this adds to the message. Then try writing a first person account from the perspective of Kayleigh, the girl in the charity advertisement.

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