These days, facts and opinions become twisted and are blurred quite easily. It is more important than ever to be able to separate actual, verifiable fact from conjecture. With this in mind, let’s talk about objective vs. subjective statements. A big part of that is knowing the difference between the words objective and subjective.
Clarifying The Terms
Firstly, we should note that this article pertains only to the facts and opinions. The words objective and subjective have many definitions. They are used in specialized ways in philosophy and literary analysis. Additionally, they can be grammatical terms, indicating how a particular word functions in a sentence.
Despite all these disparate meanings, our sole concern is the discussion of truth and conjecture.
Using Objective Correctly
Once again, objective can mean many things. It can serve as a noun or an adjective, but for our purposes, let’s focus only on its adjectival definition. This definition is impartial, unbiased, or lacking a personal agenda or inclination. For example:
A judge must be objective in mediating between attorneys.
This independent auditor will offer an objective assessment of the firm’s finances.
Our newspaper has a strict policy against political donations to reinforce our commitment to objective reporting.
Using Subjective Correctly
Subjective is the opposite of objective. Its definition is based upon personal experience or bias. Here are some examples:
Of course, my thoughts are subjective, but I believe Lynda is an excellent choice for the position.
Readers need to understand that the columnists’ writing is subjective, as opposed to unbiased reporting.
I will not take as definitive proof the subjective statement of a clearly compromised person.
Differentiating between a thriller and a horror film can be a highly subjective process.
Telling the Two Apart
At different times and in different contexts, writers can be called upon for objective or subjective work. If a piece requires unbiased reportage and analysis, you would call that writing objective. If it requires biased assessment or opinion, the writing would be subjective.
For a quick device to remember which adjective to use, try this:
- Objective and observation both begin with o, and both involve unbiased attentions
- Subjective and stance both start the s. Subjective writing always takes a stance.
Here is are real-life examples of the words being used:
“Times reporters and editors take careful measures in their personal lives to remain objective in their work.” – New York Times
“The third and most important ingredient in the controlled hallucination view is the claim that perceptual experience — in this case the subjective experience of “seeing a coffee cup” — is determined by the content of the (top-down) predictions, and not by the (bottom-up) sensory signals.” – The Boston Globe
When considering objective vs. subjective, remember: these words can have different definitions for different contexts. However, concerning facts and opinion, objective means without bias and subjective means affected by bias. Just remember that, and you should not have too much trouble using them correctly.