What is a “Second person Point of View”?


“POV” is short for point of view, meaning the point of view through which we’re seeing a piece of writing. The different types are first person, second person, third limited, and third omniscient.

In first person POV, the reader sees through the eyes of the character. In third, the reader is told the story by a separate narrator.

In second, the reader becomes the character or the object being addressed.

What is second person point of view?

Second person is the “you” perspective.

This perspective is most often used in technical writing, marketing, speeches, and nonfiction.

It is the perspective used for “directing,” like in an instruction manual, when you want to directly tell your reader what to do.

Examples of second person point of view

Second-person POV is easy to spot because of the words you, your, and yours. Here are a few examples of second person point of view that you might find in a set of instructions:

Instructional:

  • To calculate the perimeter of a rectangle, add the length of each side together.
  • Bring the water to a rolling boil before adding your vegetables.
  • In creative prose, you should try to show instead of tell.

Other common places for second person to appear are in speeches and songs.

Songs:

  • Don’t stop believing. Hold onto that feeling. – Journey
  • Has anybody told you you’re a mean ass drunk? – Watsky
  • I don’t care where you been, how many miles, I still love you. – Watsky
  • Welcome to the family. – Watsky
  • Let me tell you ‘bout my GPA, 4 O’s, straight A’s. – Watsky 
  • Sorry, I’ve been listening to a lot of Watsky today.

Advertising mostly uses second person point of view, because the intention is to address an audience and encourage action.

Ads:

  • Just do it. – Nike
  • Save money. Live better. – Wal-Mart
  • Have it your way. – Burger King
  • Red Bull gives you wings. – Monster Energy Drink
  • Think outside the bun. – Taco Bell

What is second-POV good for?

Second person point of view is used most often in nonfiction, such as self-help or instructional materials.

Places second-person POV might be effective:

  • Advertising
  • Songs
  • Speeches
  • Manuals
  • Cookbooks
  • Self-help books
  • Guided journals
  • Choose-your-own-adventure books

How to write second-person POV

Utilize second-person for projects such as the examples listed above by using “you” pronouns. 

For creative pieces, here are some tips for writing with second person POV:

  1. Have a reason to do it. If you’re writing a story or a novel, second person can be very off-putting to readers. It puts them on edge, dragging “them” through a story they have no say in. If you have a reason for the reader experience to be affected like that, then second-person might be the route for you!
  2. Use it in the appropriate forms. Be wary of using second person POV in longer stories, because it can turn readers off. For a short story, it can easily be a stylistic and effective choice.
  3. Vary your word usage to keep from being too repetitive. Instead of saying “you” over and over, try fitting in alternatives like “your” and “yours.”
    Also keep in mind the “implied you,” where the statement addresses the reader without including “you.” Example: “Move the tray to the middle rack.” The word “you” is implied at the beginning of the sentence.

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Hannah Lee Kidder

Hannah Lee Kidder is a contemporary and fantasy author, writing coach, and YouTuber. She has published two bestselling short story collections, Little Birds and Starlight. Hannah is currently minding her own business, streaming a variety of writing and life content on Twitch, somewhere in the Colorado mountains with her roommate, Saya, who is a dog.

https://www.facebook.com/HannahLeeKidder

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