5.2 Facts and opinions
Many texts contain true and accurate information called facts.
Other texts tell you what the writer believes, even if it is not always true. These kinds of text contain opinions that are biased. This means that they tell what the writer thinks. Sometimes the writer thinks something that isn’t true.
It can be quite difficult to decide what is a fact and what is an opinion. Sometimes facts and opinions are mixed up together in a text.
Being able to tell facts from opinions is important, because:
- Factual information tells the reader what they want to know and is accurate.
- Reading biased texts can mean you are reading information that is not always true.
- In reading someone else’s views, you are really being persuaded to believe something.
- It helps you to decide what to do with the information in the text.
Activity 32 Fact or opinion?
This activity will help you to understand the difference between facts and opinions.
Read the following advert for a new kind of fruit cordial. Using the two different highlighting colours, highlight two facts and four opinions.
What is the purpose of the text? To persuade you to buy the cordial.
To give you an example, here’s one fact and one opinion:
- Fact: The cordial is made from 100% crushed fruit.
- Opinion: The cordial is a key ingredient for all your recipes. (This is not a fact. The cordial could be useful in some recipes. It probably won’t be the most important ingredient.)
Here is another fact and three more opinions:
Fact: The cordial is made from spring water.
Opinion: Using the cordial will help you to save time.
This is not a fact. Yes, it may save you having to crush some raspberries, but how much time will that really save?
Opinion: It is ‘super-concentrated’.
What does ‘super’ actually mean? Is it more concentrated than all other cordials? Or is it just more concentrated than others they used to make?
Opinion: This cordial is ‘the best you can buy’.
This is only their opinion. You may prefer some other cordial that is cheaper and better value for money.
Adverts are designed to get you to buy products. They have hidden messages to persuade you. Sometimes the opinions are hidden very subtly. You have to look carefully to find them.
Activity 33 Opinions or facts?
Highlight three facts and three opinions in the following extract from a letter.
See if you spotted any of these.
- I’ve lost 48 pounds in 4 months.
- I can now wear size 12 dresses
- She is following the Sherwood Weight Loss Plan.
- It’s all down to the marvellous new Sherwood Weight Loss Plan. (This may be true, but there may be some other reason or reasons. She could be walking to work instead of going by bus.)
- You’ll be green with envy. (The reader may not care at all!)
- No other time of day will do – it [exercise] needs to be before the biggest meal of the day for maximum benefit. (This is not likely to be true. She will burn up the same number of calories whenever she takes her walk.)