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Who's on First?

March 14, 2018

To become proficient, and even to excel, in any field or trade, the student must master the terms used in that specific field.   When a mechanic hears the term “torque wrench,” he knows exactly what it is and what it does.  Someone who practices embroidery both knows and is comfortable with the term “counted cross- stitch.”   So also, in the study of language (and in our case, the enjoyable study of Early Modern English) there are terms and jargon we should understand.   Therefore, today, by request from one of the blog reader’s,  we look at First Person, Second Person, and Third Person.

 

First Person - If we talk or indite (speak for the purpose of creating a written composition that is designed to read or broadcast—Ps 45:1) of our own actions.   I, we, us, are first person-pronouns.  

 

“For now we see through a glass darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12).  We is a first person pronoun, as our perspective, our view, is from ourselves looking out.  

 

“ I will do it....I will come to you....I will love him” (John 14:14,18, 21).    These are first person statements.  Jesus, who is speaking, is himself claiming responsibility for the verbs will do, will come, and will love.

 

Second Person - Imagine we are in a conversation with another person, and as we speak directly to that person, we assign the verb to him/ her.   We’d use pronouns such as you and thou.

 

“...seest thou as man seeth?” (Job 10:4) — seest thou is a second person indicator; and as man seeth is a third person indicator. 

 

“And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ” (Mk. 8:29) — in this passage, Peter is directly conversing with, and answering, Jesus; therefore, thou art [second person] is appropriately used. 

 

Third Person -  Now imagine I’m conversing with another missionary, and I refer to a pastor (Dr. Dry-As-Dust) who is not in our immediate conversation.  (Neither is “Doc”  connected to our dialog digitally!).   “He has a heart for missionaries,”   I proclaim to my friend.   When we use pronouns such as he, she, they, it,  or if I said, “Doc has a heart for missionaries” — we indicate a third person reference.   We refer to those people, over there, outside of our conversation. 

 

“...he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak” (Mk. 7:37) —They were speaking about Jesus, about his actions, but they were not speaking directly to him; they were using a third person reference.  

 

Good question—I hope that helps (and I hope it’s correct!).   

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