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Meaning of Words and Phrases
Main Idea, Supporting Details, and Structure
Purpose and Point of View
Identifying the Primary Purpose
Fact and Opinion
Tone, Opinion, or Point of View
Critical Reasoning Skills
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Purpose and Point of View

Distinguishing Between Statements of Fact and Expressions of Opinion

This skill is one that you probably have practiced before in school. Facts should be objective and provable; opinions are statements of belief, feeling or judgment. In college textbooks, however, you may have to give considerable thought to statements because one sentence may combine fact and opinion.

Always look for “judgment words” like too in the following sentence to identify an opinion:

“The recent appointment of John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court made the court too conservative.”

It is a fact that John Roberts is a recent appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court; it may also be a fact, if the writer uses Roberts’ decisions on lower court cases as examples, that Justice Roberts is a conservative, but it is the writer’s opinion that Roberts’ appointment makes the court too conservative. Just that one word would make the statement above an opinion rather than a fact.