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Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion Help (page 2)

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Updated on Apr 25, 2014

Distinguishing Fact from Opinion

When you read academic materials, very often you will have to distinguish between fact and opinion—between what the writer thinks and how the writer supports what he or she thinks, between what is proven to be true and what needs to be proved.

A good test for whether something is a fact or opinion might be to ask yourself, "Can this statement be debated? Is this known for certain to be true?" If you answer yes to the first question, you have an opinion; if you answer yes to the second, you have a fact.

TIP: Sometimes "facts" are incorrect or skewed because they were obtained from invalid or biased sources. When you are reading a nonfiction text, it's important to note the author's credentials and his or her sources. Use that information to validate the legitimacy of the "facts" being presented.

Summary

The ability to differentiate between fact and opinion is a very important skill. Like a detective, you need to know the difference between what people think and what people know, between what people believe to be true and what has been proven to be true. Then you will be able to see whether writers support their opinions, and if they do, how they do it. This will allow you to judge for yourself the validity of those opinions.

TIP: When you are reading a nonfiction text, seek out contradictory statements. They serve as red flags, signaling that what is being presented as "fact" might actually be a half-truth or opinion.

 

Practice exercises for this concept can be found at Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion Practice.

More Practice exercises for this concept can be found at Reading Comprehension Strategies Practice Test.

Test your knowledge at Reading Comprehension Final Practice Test.

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