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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Columnist: Azindoo, Abubakar Mohammed Marzuq

Literary discourse Grammatical person

By Abubakar Mohammed Marzuq Azindoo, Coordinator of Students and University Relations, University of Applied Management (UAM), Germany – Ghana Campus, McCarthy Hill, Accra and Tamale
Email: Tell: 0244755402


In a previous lesson, we treated SPECIAL PLURALITY as an aspect of NUMBER. Today, we examine GRAMMATICAL PERSON as another aspect of NUMBER that plays important roles in English communication. Indeed, knowledge of Grammatical Person helps users avoid errors of concord in sentence constructions involving pronouns as subjects. It also maximizes understanding and use of Point of view in writing and speaking. Point of View is the perspective from which a speaker or writer recounts a narrative or presents information. For instance, depending on the topic, the purpose, and the audience, writers may choose the First–Person, the Second–Person, and the Third–Person Points of View.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, fellow learners and readers should be able to:

• Understand Grammatical Person
• Identify Types of Grammatical Person
• Use grammatical persons in sentences correctly

Grammatical Person

This is a linguistic category used to distinguish between the speaker or writer of a piece of information and those to whom or about whom he/she is speaking or writing. It is implemented in English Language by personal and non-personal pronouns in three categories. They are:

• First Person: This refers to the one(s) doing the speaking. (I, me, mine, we, us, ours)
• Second Person: This refers to the one(s) spoken to, i.e. directly addressed. (you, your, yours)
• Third Person: This refers to the one(s) spoken about, be they human, animal, vegetable, mineral, or abstract. (it, its, he/she him/her, his/her they, theirs, them.)

It is important to mention that these persons are broadly divided into two – SINGULAR persons and PLURAL persons. Below is an illustration:

Person Subjective Objective possessive
• First Person Singular I Me My, Mine
• Second Person Singular You You Your, Yours
• Third Person Singular He/She/It Him/Her/It His/her/hers/Its
• First Person Plural We Us Our, Ours
• Second Person Plural You You Your, Yours
• Third Person Plural They Them Their, Theirs


Summing up, we humbly urge fellow learners and readers not to underrate Grammatical Person. It might appear simple and less important to many users of English. However, it could equally constitute a source of miscommunication and ridicule if adequate attention is not paid to it. There is, therefore, the need to master the Grammatical Person to avoid logical and structural errors in written and spoken communication.


O’Grady, W., Archibald, J., Aronoff, M.,& Rees-Miller, J. (2009). (6th edi). Contemporary linguistics: an introduction. New York: Bedford.

Kidder, T., & Todd, R. (2013). Good prose: the art of nonfiction. New York: Random House.

Lyon, E. (2003). A writer's guide to nonfiction. New York: Perigee Books.

Gutkind, L., & Buck, H. F. (2008). Keep it real: everything you need to know about researching and writing creative nonfiction. New York: W.W. Norton.