Asking and Giving Opinions – Agreeing and Disagreeing in English

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Expression of asking and giving opinion.

1. Giving Opinions:

2. Asking Opinions:

  • What do you think/reckon?
  • do you see what I’m getting at?
  • Do you know/see what I mean?
  • Do you agree with me?
  • Would you go along with that?
  • Would you agree with me that … ?
  • What are your thoughts on that?
  • Don’t you think (that) … ?

3. Agreeing:

  • I (totally) agree with you / that.
  • I couldn’t agree more.
  • I’d go along with that.
  • I feel the same.
  • You’re absolutely right.
  • Absolutely / Definitely / Exactly.
  • No doubt about it.
  • That’s a good point. / I see your point.
  • I see where you’re coming from.

4. Disagreeing:

  • I’m afraid I disagree.
  • I don’t agree with you / that.
  • I’d be inclined to disagree.
  • That’s not the way I see it.
  • I don’t think so. / I don’t feel the same.

5. Partly agreeing:

  • I see your point but …
  • I kind of agree with you / that.
  • I agree with you to an extent, however, …
  • You make a good point, but …






Asking for and expressing opinions is something we frequently do in every day English. We will need to ask and give opinions in formal situations such as in business, in writing, both academic and informal texts, and in informal speaking.

Example:

  • It seems to me that the government should reduce trade tariffs. (Formal)
  • What do you reckon to these shoes? (Informal)

Giving opinions can be weak or strong:

Weak

  • I think….
  • I don’t think…
  • I’m fairly certain that….
  • I’m quite certain that….
  • I would have thought that….

Medium

  • I believe….
  • I don’t doubt that….
  • I feel certain that…
  • My impression is that….
  • As I see it..
  • It seems to me that…
  • It strikes me that…..

Strong

  • I’m absolutely certain that….
  • I’m convinced that….
  • I strongly believe that…

Examples:

  • I think it’s a good movie
  • I don’t doubt that smoking is bad for you
  • I’m convinced that it’s the best decision we could make for the company

Asking for an opinion:

  • What do you think about this brand, Tom?
  • What do you reckon to these shoes, Pam?
  • Mum, how do you feel about buying me a new smart phone?
  • What do you think about this?
  • Do you have any strong feelings on this, John?
  • Any comments, anybody?
  • What are your views on nuclear power?

Giving reasons:

Sometimes when we give opinions we may want to give a reason.

  • Firstly…
  • Secondly….
  • One reason is….
  • Another is….
  • To start with….
  • Added to that….
  • For one thing….

Example:

  • It seems to me that weak gun laws lead to more crime. For one thing, it’s too easy to get a weapon these days.

Interrupting:

Sometimes, if we are exchanging opinions with other people we may want to interrupt them politely.

  • Excuse me. Can I just say….?
  • Could I come in here…?
  • Sorry to interrupt but….
  • Yes, but….

Stopping someone from interrupting you:

  • If you’d let me finish…
  • Just a minute…
  • Hang on…(informal)

Try to use some of the language to ask for and give opinions. Choose any topic such as: energy conservation, obesity in the West, marriage, the price of branded sports shoes, the dangers of the internet for children, the best Star Wars film etc.Practise with a friend or write out some dialogues like this:

A: What do you think about marriage?
B: I don’t think it’s for everyone. To start with, the cost of a wedding these days is ridiculous!

A: Well, I don’t doubt that but I believe it’s better for society and…
B: Sorry to interrupt but, as I see it, marriage only leads to divorce!

A: Oh…!
A: Ok, so as you know we have a deadline to get this work finished. How do you feel about staying late tonight?

A: Any comments, Peter, Anne?
B: Well, it seems to me that we don’t have a choice.

C: I feel sure that if we get our heads down, we can finish by 6pm.

Writing letters or send emails expressing your opinion about something:

Dear Mr Smith,

I am writing to express my concern about the proposed closure of the village bus route.

I strongly believe that taking away our local bus will have serious consequences for the people who live here. To start with, many elderly residents will be unable to get to the shops and added to that, people will be more isolated than ever.

I would like to know what your reaction is to this situation,

Yours sincerely,

Jane Brown.

More for you:
Useful English Phrases For Running A Business Meeting
Essential Academic Writing Examples and Phrases!
19 Email Templates for Business Communication

Giving your opinion in English

There are so many ways to express an opinion in English and it’s important that you use them. The way you choose to express an opinion can alter the way people think of you and look at you every day!

This is especially true in British English, where we are obsessed with politeness and not being too assuming.

In my opinion / In my humble opinion

Probably the most basic way we have here of expressing your opinion.

Using in my opinion is a great way of telling people what you think and also making sure they know that it is just your opinion.  You could use this during a debate or if you are with a group of people deciding what they should do.

Alan: Hey Steph, what did you think of the new Terminator film?
Steph: Well, in my opinion, it wasn’t as good as the older ones. I didn’t find the story line believable.
Alan: Yeah true, it was strange.

To add something to this phrase you can add the word humble that changes the meaning just slightly.

Saying in my humble opinion adds a bit of politeness to expressing your opinion. To be humble means that you act in a very reserved and careful manner so that you don’t offend people.

Servants were always expected to be humble when they were working for kings and queens. It is slightly degrading and lowers your own worth, but today it is also used to be polite.

Alan: So you really didn’t like the movie then? That’s a shame.
StephNo, I just thought it was nowhere near the old films. But that’s just my humble opinion!

Use these with new English acquaintances to impress your friends with how polite you are!

I reckon / I suppose

These are ways to express opinion with a slight sense of uncertainty as well.

Using I reckon in a sentence is primarily reserved for British English and southern US English. It’s a very personal thing to say and because of that it implies that the opinion is not an expert one. It is simply that person’s view. I reckon is also slightly colloquial and probably best reserved for informal situations.

You definitely wouldn’t use it in formal academic writing!

WayneRon, what do you think of United this season?
Ron: I don’t know, I reckon we could be in for a tough season.
Wayne: Who knows. It will be interesting for sure.

Then we have I suppose which is the formal counterpart of I reckon. It means the same thing but is more commonly used due to its formality.

It is also used to suggest something that you could do or change.

Rita: Jonas, come on, what can we do today? I’m bored.
Jonas: I don’t know Rita, what do you want to do?

Rita: Well, why don’t we go to the park?
Jonas: Yeah, I suppose we could do that. But remember it is going to rain later.
Rita: But I’m so bored!

When in doubt, go for suppose. It’s the most common version of these two phrases!

I know

Now we move onto a more direct expression of opinion.

When you say I know, you are certain your opinion is correct and true. This can be used to dramatic effect during a debate or an argument that you feel passionately about.

Bear in mind though, as we looked at with in my humble opinion, This phrase can be regarded as impolite because you are effectively saying something with 100 percent certainty. You don’t think there is any chance of being wrong.

Take a look:

Andrew: Tim, why were you shouting at Amber earlier?
Tim: Oh, it was just silly, she was lying to me.

Andrew: Really?
Tim: Yeah, she denied it but I know she is not telling the truth.

Andrew: Well, she might be telling the truth Tim, be fair.
Tim: No, you don’t understand. I know that she is lying to me! I just know it!

Make sure you are absolutely sure of yourself with this one!

May I?

This is a very formal but very useful phrase to use in expressing your opinion.

By asking may I? you are effectively asking for permission to join the conversation or debate. It’s especially used if you are listening to two people arguing that you don’t know very well or if the situation is nothing to do with you.

It’s difficult to explain, so let’s look at an example:

Peter: James, you’re being ridiculous. We always eat pizza on Friday night.
James: So what? I want to try Indian food tonight!

Ken: Um, guys, may I?
Peter: Go ahead.

James: Of course.
Ken: Well I was just thinking, why don’t we have one type of food tonight and the other tomorrow to make sure you’re both happy.

Peter: Yeah, maybe.
James: That is a good idea, I must admit.

As mentioned above, it is very formal but it allows you the chance to say what you think without the extra problem of being uninvited!

If you ask me

This is similar to asking may I? but with this phrase you are directly entering the conversation, not necessarily with permission from this in an argument or debate.

Think of it literally, you’re saying if somebody wants to know what I think, this is it.  A common retort to this phrase, if your opinion is unwanted would be nobody asked you.

Take a look:

Emma: If we leave at four o’clock tomorrow then we should get there in plenty of time.
Tony: No, I think we should leave earlier than that.

Verity: If you ask me, we should just go by plane. That would me much better!
Emma: Nobody asked you, Verity!

Of course, it us unusual to hear nobody asked you as it is quite rude, but be prepared to hear it a couple of times as saying if you ask me can sound quite direct depending on the context.

If I were you

This is a good phrase for giving advice as well as expressing your opinion. It should only be used in an informal context.

Here, you are putting yourself in the shoes of the person to whom you are speaking. It’s very useful because you are not directly telling them what to do, but simply saying what you would do if you were in the same situation.

Jenny: I don’t know what to do. I want to go to the disco but I have a test tomorrow. I should probably study.
Tom: That’s a tough one, what class is the test?

Jenny: It’s maths.
Tom: I’ve heard that test is really easy. If I were you, I would go to the disco.

In using this diplomatic phrase, you might get some very good results!

To be honest

This is a very common phrase in English and is a nice one to use in all different types of conversation. Start using this in your speech today!

The cool thing about this phrase is that you can use it formally or informally in many situations. It is also neither assuming nor direct.

Just think about it logically, it means that you are making an extra connection with your listener by at least saying you are going to speak honestly. Maybe you are talking about a sensitive subject or a problem and this phrase will be employed to cut through the unspoken information.

Take a look:

Ben: Did you see the election result? How fantastic!
Nina: Oh really? No I didn’t see it.

Ben: Oh okay, it was all over the news!
Nina: Yeah but to be honest, I don’t really like politics.
Ben: Fair enough!

To be honest, this is probably the best phrase on the list!

I could be wrong, but

This another phrase you can use to be humble.

It’s also slightly false in its construction. What you are doing here is inviting your listener to tell you that you are wrong and also admitting that it’s possible (perhaps likely) that you are wrong. It takes pressure off of you in a conversation.

Of course, normally, you don’t actually think you are wrong but by admitting it’s possible you are making yourself more humble.

Here’s an example:

Perry: I can’t believe that it’s Glen’s birthday tomorrow! I need to get him a present!
Tina: I could be wrong, but isn’t it the 25th tomorrow?
Perry: Yeah it is!

Tina: Glen’s birthday isn’t until the 26th, you have a bit more time to go!
Perry: Phew! That’s a relief.

This is best suited to formal situations but can also be used in informal ones. A very useful phrase!

I’m no expert, but

This is similar to I could be wrong but it is usually used for more extensive debates.

It could also be used sarcastically for a humorous effect:

Nancy: I’m having real trouble reading this book, Ed, my vision is getting worse and worse.
Ed: I’m no expert, but wouldn’t it help to see if you put your glasses on?
Nancy: Very funny, but yes you are probably right. I just don’t like wearing them!

Using this humorously, you’re making a joke about the situation. In the example above, You don’t actually need to be an expert to know that if you need glasses, then wearing them makes it easier to see things.

In a serious way, you invite the other party in the conversation to tell you their expertise on the subject at hand. Whenever you use I’m no expert, but it is usually followed by a question directly aimed at either the person or the issue.

Have a look:

Pete: Hi Barry, how’s it going?
Barry: Not too bad, thanks Pete, how about you?

Pete: I’m great! I’ve just gotten back from owl-watching.
Barry: Owl-watching? But it’s 12 o’clock in the afternoon!

Pete: Yes, what’s the problem with that?
Barry: Well, I’m no expert, but don’t owls come out at night?

Pete: Actually, there are lots of owls that come out in the day as well.
Barry: How interesting!

You can also change this phrase to a statement by saying well, you’re the expert!

Personally

This is a useful phrase to distinguish your opinion from a group of people who might think differently than you.

This is particularly good to use if you don’t agree with a decision that your group has made. Politicians often use this phrase when their party has made a collective decision which they are planning to oppose.

For example:

Murray: So, Emily your party has voted against raising wages, what do you think of that?
Emily: Well, I respect their decision but I do not necessarily agree with it. I have very different views on this issue.

Murray: What do you mean?
Emily: Well, personally I think people work very hard for their money and I think they deserve even more than they get at the moment.

Murray: Interesting, that’s very different to your party’s view.
Emily: Well, as I said, this is my personal view and I cannot change that.

In other situations, you can use this to politely disagree with friends when they are making plans or having a discussion about something. It’s a really good way to state a strong opinion without being judged to harshly. By saying personally, you take total responsibility for the opinion.

Dave: So, it’s agreed, we will go to the cinema and then we will eat at the Italian restaurant next door?
Tony: That sounds good to me! Charlotte, you are very quiet today, what’s wrong?

Charlotte: Well, personally I would rather go bowling. But nobody asked my opinion.
Dave: You should have said! We can do that as well if you want?

Tony: Yeah, we could go bowling, then go to the cinema and then go to the Italian restaurant. How does that sound?
Charlotte: That sounds perfect!

Hopefully when you use this phrase it will go as well as the example above!

So, that is your comprehensive guide to expressing an opinion effectively and politely! Personally, I think it went really well. I know that it is a lot of information but if you ask me, it is all very useful and will help you to speak better English.

Remember of course, I could be wrong!

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1

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2

Thank you for sharing