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Fact Versus Opinion: Reading Comprehension Review Study Guide

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Updated on Aug 24, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Fact versus Opinion: Reading Comprehension Review Practice Exercises

Why is there a whole chapter in this book dedicated to the differences between fact and opinion? Because it's really important to know the differences in becoming a critical reader … and making your way through all the hype you get from the media! You need to be able to separate fact from opinion in just about everything you read or hear. Otherwise, you may inadvertently take as a fact something that is entirely an opinion. And being able to judge the difference can help you logically analyze information based on how well the author supports his or her opinion with the facts. We'll get to that part later, but for now, let's concentrate on what makes a fact or opinion and how to tell the difference between the two.

FUEL FOR THOUGHT

SOMEONE WHO is gullible is easily fooled.

WHAT'S A FACT?

A fact is something that can be proven to be true and that is not up for debate. A fact is something like this:

    A tree is a plant.
      or
    The Earth has gravitational pull.
      or
    You're reading an Express Review Guide.

Those are facts. They can be proved true. We don't just like to think they're true … we know they are!

PACE YOURSELF

WRITE DOWN THREE facts or things you know to be true and that aren't open for debate.

Think about all the things you know are true. It's pretty crazy, isn't it, to think about how many facts you already know? You know how old you are. It's a fact. You know your birthday. It's also a fact. You know lots of other things, like your favorite color, for instance. Even that is a fact. You might think that because you picked it yourself, your favorite color's not a fact, but it is. If you decide that your favorite color from now on will be green, then that's a fact. Think about it. Can it be debated? Can someone come up to you and say, "Nope, I think your favorite color is really yellow"? No. Well, someone could, but your favorite color isn't yellow, because you just decided that it's green! And that's a fact!

WHAT'S AN OPINION?

An opinion is something that someone believes. It hasn't been proven to be true and can definitely be debated. Here's an example:

Cookies are delicious.

Even if you're a cookie lover, this is not a fact. Although it's hard to imagine, there are people who don't think cookies are delicious. Therefore, cookies are delicious is an opinion or belief that someone might disagree with.

Sometimes you can spot an opinion right away because the author uses phrases like This reporter believes …, In my opinion…, or Many people believe that … But other times, you have to read between the lines to sift out the opinions. Why? An opinion may be based on facts and supported by them, but it's still only a belief. For example:

Cats are good pets.

FUEL FOR THOUGHT

HERE'S A FACT about cats. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 38.4 million U.S. households have at least one cat.

Not everyone would agree with this statement. It's a belief. And it could be supported with facts like these:

      Millions of people in the United States have cats.
      You don't have to walk cats.
      They give themselves baths.
      Cats are small and furry.

All this may be true, but the original statement is still just an opinion, not a fact.

Here's what you need to remember:

    fact = something that is known to be true
    opinion = something that is a belief

PACE YOURSELF

SPEND SOME TIME listening carefully to what people say to you. Are they giving you facts or opinions?

CAUTION!

DON'T BE FOOLED by opinions masquerading as facts. Think carefully about whether something is actually known to be true, or whether it's just what someone thinks.

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