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fact vs opinion

Quick question:

Look at these General Statements taken from an essay introduction. Decide if the words in bold express a fact, an opinion or both.
1) Undoubtedly, buying a house is necessary for the majority of people.
2) Buying a house is generally considered the right decision when it comes to settling down and having life stability in adulthood. However, many people claim that it is not the sole available option. 
3) [Conclusion] To sum up, it may be is hard to justify that there are both positives and negatives to renting or buying a house.
Check your answer here

This is a REALLY difficult question, and quite difficult to illustrate. I will add more examples as I notice them.

1. Adverbs like ‘undoubtedly’ (‘surprisingly’ ‘unfortunately’ ‘interestingly’ etc) express the opinion of the writer. The writer believes that there is no doubt about the statement. This is dangerous, because that means the statement must be 100% true (fact). Is this statement 100% true?

Is buying a house NECESSARY for the majority of people? Certainly, most people need somewhere to live, and for many people owning a house/home is desirable. But is it necessary? Is this a fact? If so, it could be wrong. Is it an opinion? If so, where is the evidence to support your opinion?

ANSWER: It is unclear if this is fact or opinion.

Better option: ‘Home ownership is desirable for many people’. (Quick fix – use many). Now this is an indisputable fact.

2. ‘Many people claim’ suggests that many people have an opinion, whereas ‘[buying a house] is not the only available option’ is a fact. 

ANSWER: It is unclear if this is a fact or opinion.

Better option:  ‘Buying a house is not the only available option’. Now this is an indisputable fact.

3. ‘It is hard to justfiy’ = Opinion. ‘There are positives and negatives’ = Fact.

ANSWER: Fact an opinion are mixed up in this sentence.

Better option = There are both positives and negatives to buying a house. In my opinion …(state your opinion).

Distinguishing between fact and opinion is a key skill for high-level essay writing.

It is not easy and takes time to master.

A simple [explicit] way is to write ‘In my opinion’ before every opinion, but this would be too repetitive.

So your language must show your opinion implicitly.

There are many ways of doing this.

1) By using positive/negative adjectives

2) By using adverbs (undoubtedly, obviously, interestingly, unfortunately)

3) Using modals (should, must, need to, have to)

4) Using too/not enough

5) The language of postive/negative effects

Check out the slides and watch the video below for more examples.

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