Fact and Opinion

Explanations and exercises online

A fact is a statement that can be proven by direct experience or objective verification.  This evidence may be in the form of the testimony of witnesses, agreed-upon observations, the written records of such testimony and observations, or the result of research or investigation. A statement of fact can theoretically be checked for accuracy.  

You should know that a statement of fact may be found to be untrue.  When that happens, the statement is no longer a fact, it is an error.

An opinion is a statement of belief or judgment that cannot be objectively proven true or false.  Opinions usually express the feelings, preferences or biases that a person has about a subject.

You should know that a statement of opinion is sometimes disguised as a fact. For example:  

It is understood that the children of working mothers feel rejected.  

The use of the phrase "It is understood..." implies that what follows has been proven.  This is not the case and the statement is an opinion.

Hopefully, you took good notes from the class lecture on these two types of statements.  In addition to the in-class discussion and your textbook, you may visit web sites which will give you additional practice with distinguishing between statements of fact and statements of opinion.

Fact or Opinion Quiz
Reading for Results: Fact and Opinion Exercise
Reading for Thinking: Fact and Opinion Exercise I
Reading for Thinking: Fact and Opinion Exercise II

Remember; a fact is not the opposite of an opinion.  They are simply types of statements.  If a fact is untrue or false, it does not turn into an opinion.  By the same logic, if an opinion is believed by everyone, it does not turn into a fact.

Opinions cannot be proved, however they can be supported with facts and other knowledgeable opinions.  Facts can be proved with evidence, statistics, records, photographs, data, etc.

Perhaps most important, facts are not better than opinions, or vice versa.  There is no hierarchy.  They are simply types of statements, so even though an opinion cannot be proved, opinions are every bit as important as facts.

 

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Updated 4/20/02