The ability to distinguish between fact and opinion is a vital skill in this day and age. Here are some ways to tell the differences between them!
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.
You can ask yourself these questions to assess if something is a fact. If the answer is yes, it’s a fact!
- 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?
My car payment is $250 a month.
President Millard Fillmore was America’s 13th president.
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.
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.)
My car payments are too expensive.
President Millard Fillmore had the best policies of all the presidents.
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.
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?
Chimps are in massive danger of extinction from dwindling habitats.
(Jane Goodall, primate expert and ethologist)
If you want to practice the concepts explained here, go to our Facts vs. Opinions Practice page!
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