FACTS AND OPINIONS

 

‘Fact’
To start with, it is worthwhile looking at the actual word ‘fact’ and how it can be used in combination with other words.  Note the verbs and phrases used in the following examples:

   - Scientists believe they have established the main facts concerning global warming.

   - It is important for newspapers to check their facts before publishing a story.

   - Politicians are often accused of distorting the facts to suit their case.

   - Increasing pollution levels cities has drawn attention to the fact that we need to devote more resources to tackle this issue.


‘Evidence’
The word ‘evidence’ is used in a similar way to ‘fact’, but the important difference between the two is that ‘evidence’ is uncountable while ‘’fact’ is countable. Common combinations with ‘evidence’ include:

Verbs:  collect, examine consider, analyse
Adjectivesgrowing, widespread, conflicting, abundant, hard



Generalizations

The following phrases in bold are useful for introducing generalizations.

   - In general, most jobs in the fast-food industry are low -paid.
   - Generally, people buy a drink with their food in fast-food restaurants.
   - On the whole, fast-food restaurants are more popular with young people.
   - For the most part, fast-food advertisements seem to focus on new tastes and low prices
   - All things considered, I think the appearance of fast-food restaurants on out high streets has been a good thing.
   - On balance, I believe that fast-food restaurants have had a negative effect on our society.
   - It is generally accepted that letter writing is a dying art.
   - Nowadays there is a (growing) tendency to only read or listen to opinions that you already agree with.


Degrees of Possibilities

Your statements of fact and opinion can be more nuanced and more accurately reflect what you wish to say if you use suitable expressions for indicating the degree of certainty you feel about the topic. Such expressions can include:

  • Certainty:

   - It is undoubtedly true that learning a foreign language has a positive effect on your cognitive skills.

   - I am in no doubt that nationalism is a disruptive force in today’s world.

   - There are bound to be hotels in space in the next fifty years.

   - I’m sure that automobile technology is going to go through major changes in the coming years.

 

  • Probability:

   - It is (highly) likely that robots are going to replace human workers in ever increasing numbers in the next few decades.

   - There is every likelihood that there will be a major conflict in the next ten years.

   - House prices may well drop dramatically if the recession continues.

   - Presumably, people spend more money when their salary is increased.
 

  • Possibility:

   - There is a chance that an asteroid could hit the Earth in the next five hundred years.

   - It is possible that there will be a manned mission to Mars fairly in the next thirty years.

   - Global warming could be dealt with if there was an international consensus to implement the needed policies.

   - Various marketing devices are used to attract potential customers.

 

  • Improbability:

   - It is doubtful that banks will adequately regulate transactions by themselves.

   - The report concludes that most schooling is allegedly failing children.

(The use of ‘allegedly’ suggest that the writer does not believe the claim being made)

   - A university degree is claimed to be a necessity for a good job. (but I dispute this)

   - There’s(only) a faint /slight possibility that a satisfactory solution can be found for this problem.

 

  • Impossibility:

   - For me, it is unthinkable that we could ever do without the private car.

   - For most people, it is out of the question that they would agree to a substantial rise in income tax.

   - Trying to control the illegal drug trade is proving to be a hopeless task.

   - It is inconceivable that nowadays that people could be hanged for minor offenses.

 



Exercises


Exercise 1: Replace the words in bold with expressions from the box below that have the same meaning. All the statements could be used in the following essay.

Some people think that professional athletes make good role models for young people, while others believe they don’t.

Discuss both these points of views and give your own opinion.

 

   1. Before accusing athletes of being drug cheats it is essential that journalists verify the truth of the claims they are making.

   2. It is a misrepresentation to suggest that all Russian athletes are taking drugs.

   3. A lot of the negative publicity arises because newspapers want to write sensational headlines and are not so concerned about the accuracy of their reporting.

   4. There is a lot of data available to support the view that young people can benefit from having a positive role model to emulate.

 

·         there is a growing tendency

·         abundant evidence

·         goes without saying that it is

·         distortion of the facts

·         check the facts

·         am in no doubt

·         stems from the fact that

·         it is generally accepted 


Exercise 2 : Use the word in (brackets) at the end of each sentence to rewrite it. All the statements could be used in the following essay.

Some people feel that certain workers like nurses, doctors, and teachers are undervalued and should be paid more, especially when other people like film actors or company bosses are paid huge sums of money that are out of proportion to the importance of the work that they do.

-How far do you agree?
-What criteria should be used to decide how much people are paid?

 

   1. I’m sure that most people think that nurse are underpaid but is it necessarily a good thing to give them very high salaries? (doubt)

   2. I don’t think I’m wrong in believing that most nurses are not motivated by financial gain (presumably)

   3. There are probably many highly paid hospital managers who wouldn’t last a minute if they had to work the same hours as many nurses. (likely) 

 

Answers to Exercises
Exercise 1

   1. Before accusing athletes of being drug cheats it is essential that journalists check the facts of the claims they are making.

   2. It is a distortion of the facts to suggest that all Russian athletes are taking drugs.

   3. A lot of the negative publicity stems from the fact that newspapers want to write sensational headlines and are not so concerned about the accuracy of their reporting.

   4. There is abundant evidence to support the view that young people can benefit from having a positive role model to emulate.

Exercise 2

   1. There is no doubt that most people think that nurse are underpaid but is it necessarily a good thing to give them very high salaries? 

   2. Presumably, most nurses are not motivated by financial gain. 

  3. It is likely that many highly paid hospital managers wouldn’t last a minute if they had to work the same hours as many nurses.

 

Source: swooshenglish.com