24 January, 2019
Suppose you are with a group of friends discussing the greatest inventions of the 20th century.
One friend says, "I think the computer was the best invention. There's no question about it."
Another friend says, "I disagree! Have you forgotten that airplanes exist?"
The first one responds with, "Actually, today's airplanes could not operate without computers."
Knowing how to express your opinion in English is valuable whether you are speaking or writing. In today's program we will look at phrases you can use to share your point of view.
Many phrases are suitable in everyday speech and some types of writing, such as on blogs and personal websites. You have probably already seen or used some of these phrases:
- I think...
- I believe...
- I feel...
- In my opinion... and
- I would say...
For example, imagine you have your own food website. Today you're writing or talking about the world's best street food. You might say:
In my opinion, Bangkok has the best street food.
But suppose you wanted to make the statement stronger. You can do it by adding an adverb or adjective. For example:
- I really think...
- I strongly believe...
- I truly feel... or
- In my honest opinion...
In addition, giving reasons for your opinion adds strength to the claim. Let's hear the street food statement again:
In my honest opinion, Bangkok has the best street food. I have never seen more choices of what to eat – and everything I've tried has been delicious!
Next, let's look at a few phrases that are more common in formal situations. You might, for example, hear one of these at a business meeting or a conference, or in a formal paper:
- From my point of view...
- From my perspective...
- In my view... or
- It seems to me that...
Here's an example:
In my view, cruise ships should be banned. They produce massive amounts of waste and use the dirtiest fuel in the world.
Though phrases like "In my view..." are usually more formal than ones like "I think," there is no rule for where or when you can use them. It's often a matter of personal choice.
Asking for opinions
So, imagine you've expressed yourself. But what about the opinion of others? Often, when we express an opinion or suggestion, it's a good idea to ask other people for theirs. Phrases like these help show our desire to hear from others:
- What do you think of...?
- What are your thoughts on...?
- How do you feel about...? and
- What's your opinion on...?
You can use these questions in many kinds of situations. You might ask, for instance:
What's your opinion on Futbol Club Barcelona?
How do you feel about the new art director?
What are your thoughts on tonight's activities?
Agreeing & disagreeing
Finally, let's talk about agreeing and disagreeing.
Agreeing is the easy part. To show agreement, you can use short, clear statements. Let's suppose a friend says, "I think summer is way more fun than winter!" You might show you agree by giving one of these responses:
- So do I.
- Me too.
- I agree. or
- I couldn't agree more.
Note that, "agree" is a verb in English, so be careful not to say, "I am agree" for the present tense verb.
You can also give reasons for your agreement:
I completely agree! I couldn't live without beach days and outdoor festivals.
But what if a person says something you disagree with?
With close friends or family, we can use informal, direct phrases to say we disagree. You might say something like:
- I disagree!
- I don't agree. or
- Yeah, but...
Here's how that sounds:
Yeah, but winter has just as many fun things to do. You just have to dress warmly.
At other times, such as in discussions of more serious subjects, or in professional situations, these phrases can be too direct.
Suppose people at work or school are sharing opinions about politics or religious beliefs or something equally sensitive. For such times, your language should be more polite.
So, instead of saying "I totally disagree!" or "You're wrong!" you might say one of these:
- I'm not sure I agree with you on...
- I'm sorry but I don't agree. or
- I'm afraid I disagree.
Another common way to disagree politely is to tell the person you respect their opinion before sharing your own. Try phrases like these:
- I see what you're saying but...
- You have a point there but... or
- I understand where you're coming from but...
Listen to a short exchange:
We're paying sky-high rents and other costs. Our business would save a lot of money by changing cities.
I see what you're saying but, in my view, now is not the right time to leave Los Angeles. The city offers too many incentives.
You've probably observed that, in real life, many people state opinions without using an opening phrase. They might just say, "Summer is better than winter," for example. Though this is acceptable with friends or family or for lighter subjects, avoid doing this in professional situations or for heavier subjects.
Wow, that was a lot of information, wasn't it!? The good news is that you don't need to memorize it. In my opinion, you should choose only a few phrases that feel most natural to you and practice them whenever you can.
I'm Alice Bryant.
Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
1. Now you try it! Choose an opinion phrase from above to complete sentences from below. Give one or two reasons for each opinion. Write your sentences in the comments section.
....you should move back home with your family.
....the government should lower fuel prices.
....we can combat climate change by...
.... [football player, musician or actor name] is better than...
... [city name] has the best street food.
(Example: In my opinion, Bangkok has the best street food. I have never seen more choices of what to eat – and everything I've tried has been delicious! In Yaowarat alone, there are hundreds of food stalls offering tasty noodles, seafood, satay, Thai desserts and fresh fruit.)
2. If you read another person's opinion in the comments section, and you agree or disagree, you can respond to their comments. But, if you disagree, be sure to use polite phrases!
Words in This Story
phrase – n. a brief expression that is commonly used
blog – n. a website on which someone writes about activities, experiences and personal opinions
formal – adj. suitable for serious or official speech and writing
cruise – n. a journey on a boat or ship to a number of places as a vacation
festival – n. an organized series of performances
polite – adj. having or showing good manners or respect for other people
rent – n. money that you pay in return for being able to use property, especially to live in an apartment or house
incentive – n. something that encourages a person to do something or to work harder
delicious – adj. very pleasant to taste
stall – n. a small open counter or partially enclosed structure where things are displayed for sale