Distinguish between facts and opinions
- The learners will be able to discriminate between facts and opinions within a text
- The learners will have some tools to help them think critically
An important part of reading comprehension is determining what is a fact and what is an opinion.
Knowing the terms and concepts of facts and opinions is a must for all readers, especially nowadays when we are surrounded by alternative, even fake news through various media. Distinguishing between facts and opinions is a reading and analytical skill necessary for understanding and mentally processing text. Knowing the difference between facts and opinions helps learners make sense of the information.
To understand more completely, read the definition and examples below:
A fact is something that is true, can be verified objectively and is about real information. In other words, a fact is true and correct no matter what.
An opinion is about something that you think or feel. An opinion is not always true and cannot be proven.
|Dogs have fur.||Dog fur is pretty.|
|The Beatles were a band.||The Beatles sang great songs.|
|The last month of the year is December.||December is the best month of the year.|
There are some key words that are usually used at the beginning of a paragraph to introduce the concepts of facts or opinions like in the examples below:
- The annual report confirms…
- Scientists have recently discovered…
- According to the results of the tests…
- The investigation demonstrated…
Facts can be proven by dates, numbers, measurements, historical events, science, references etc.
- He claimed that…
- It is the officer’s view that…
- The report argues that…
- Many scientists suspect that…
Words to describe opinions are: believe, like, disagree, agree, seem, feel
4.2 Why distinguish facts from opinions?
“People use both facts and opinions when they are making decisions. They may choose to buy Kleeno washing powder because it costs $1 a kilo whereas the other brand, Whito, costs $1.50. Kleeno is cheaper; that is a fact. Or they may decide to buy Whito because the advertisers say “Whito is better” – which is an opinion. Both facts and opinions have value, but they must never be confused”.
A report should be based on facts. These facts can be checked and evidence can be used to show if they are correct:
“According to the last research on cancer survivors on Scientist Magazine, vitamin C improved the health of the patient with 25%.”
Opinions may be also included in a report. These show a person’s thoughts and beliefs, but in a report they should be based on facts.
“For the above reasons, I believe the teacher profession is not well-paid”
For your last exercise use a text writing program or note paper to write a report about a meeting in your workplace or school, including facts and opinions. The report should be half a page and include 5 facts and 3 opinions.
Tips for writing facts: Things like time and place for the meeting, and quotes from other attendees.
Tips for writing opinions: Whether you agree or not with what is being said.
When finished, ask your mentor, colleague or supervisor to read your report and give you feed back.