Facts are statements that can be verified. They can be proven true or false. Statements of fact are objective — they contain information but do not tell what the writer thinks or believes about the topic.
Example: My car payment is $250 per month.
Questions to Identify Facts:
- Can the statement be proved or demonstrated to be true?
- Can the statement be observed in practice or operation? Can you see it happen?
- Can the statement be verified by witnesses, manuscripts, or documents?
Opinions are statements that express a writer’s feelings, attitudes, or beliefs. They are neither true nor false. They are one person’s view about a topic or issue.
Example: My car payments are too expensive.
Types of Opinions:
- Positions on controversial issues
- Predictions about things in the future
- Evaluations of people, places, and things
Words to Identify Opinions:
- Biased Words (bad, worse, worst, good, better, best, worthwhile, worthless, etc.)
- Qualifiers (all, always, likely, never, might, seem, possibly, probably, should, etc.)
The opinions of experts are known as informed opinions. As experts in their field, they may make observations and offer comments that are not strictly factual. Instead, they are based on years of study, research, and experience.
Example: According to Jane Goodall, primate expert and ethologist, chimps are in massive danger of extinction from dwindling habitats.
Questions to Identify Informed Speakers:
- Does the speaker have a current and relevant background to the topic under discussion?
- Is the speaker generally respected within the field?
- Does the speaker carefully signal, via judgment words, to identify when they are presenting opinions vs. facts?
Vanessa Flora-Nakoski | This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.