Saying what you think
In this pre-intermediate Learn English Vocabulary podcast, Jack talks about some phrases you can use to ask about and express opinions.
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Today, I’m going to describe four ways of saying what you think and two questions for asking other people what they think. These are ways to ask about and express your own opinion. Today’s podcast is aimed at A2 learners or learners studying pre-intermediate English.
Before we look at the language, I need to talk a bit more about the function. What do I mean saying what you think? Well, there are some things you know. These are facts and you can use the present simple to tell people facts. The world is round. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain, etc. There are two reasons to say what you think. Firstly, if you are not sure about a fact. You can use special language to show that you are not certain that something is a fact. Secondly, because you are talking about an opinion and not something that could be said to be a fact.
If you want to tell people about your ideas, you really need to use special language or it sounds like you are talking about facts and people will think bad things about you. I’ll give you an example of this with the first piece of language.
I think …
So, the easiest way to tell someone what you think is to use the verb think. So you can use this when you are not sure about a fact. I think Bill is older than Sally. I don’t know how old Bill is and I don’t know how old Sally is, but I think Bill is older because he looks older. This is something I’m not sure about. Another example: I think William Shakespeare died in 1616. I’m not sure because I can’t remember where I read it, but I think he died in 1616.
The other reason to use I think is when what you are saying is an opinion. I think grapefruit juice is horrible. Or I think Seville is more beautiful than Barcelona. If you want to express an opinion like that without using an expression like I think, it makes you sound very arrogant and people won’t like you. For example: I think American football is boring. Compare that with American football is boring. If I state my opinion as a fact, I am likely to upset people from America who like their sport.
Personally, I think …
You can use I think to express your opinion about something to show that it is just your opinion and that you aren’t trying to tell anybody else what to think. If you want to be even more careful, you can use the adverb personally. Personally, I think Abba is a terrible band. By using personally, I think, I am letting people know that I am expressing an opinion and I recognise that other people think differently.
In my opinion …
Another phrase that means the same thing is in my opinion. In my opinion, Daniel Craig’s James Bond is the best James Bond. Some people think that if they say in my opinion, they can say anything they like without causing offence or upsetting anyone because they are just expressing an opinion. However, I don’t think using this language is enough to excuse you if you have offensive opinions.
As far as I’m concerned …
A stronger way to express your opinion is to say as far as I’m concerned … As far as I’m concerned, driving a sports car or massive pick-up truck is completely selfish. Be careful with this though, because it is quite strong. It’s a bit like saying this is my opinion and I don’t care what you think and there’s a lot of that sort of language around at the moment.
What do you think about … ?
I’ll wrap up with two questions you can ask to find out someone else’s opinion. The most obvious is what do you think about something? What do you think about Abba? I really don’t like Abba. This is an easy question, so I’ll just focus on the pronunciation. What do you is contracted in regular speech to /wɒdjə/ or even /wɒʤə/ and the /k/ at the end of think is linked to the /ə/ at the beginning of about: so we say three sounds /θɪn/ /kə/ /baʊt/. Together, that is what do you think about – /wɒdjəθɪnkəbaʊt/
How do you feel about … ?
The next question is how do you feel about something. How do you feel about dogs? This is interesting because we don’t really use the verb feel to express our opinions. You can, but it’s rare and we only use it for very weakly held opinions. I feel dogs are better than cats, but I like cats too. I think you should probably avoid using it to express your opinion until you are looking at advanced podcasts. However, you can use it easily to ask about opinions. How do you feel about Italian food? The pronunciation issues I spoke about before are the same in this question. Do you becomes /djə/ or even /ʤə/ and the /ə/ from about borrows the /l/ from the end of feel. How do you feel about – /haʊw/ /djə/ /fiː/ /lə/ /baʊt/ – /haʊwdjəfiːləbaʊt/.
There you four ways to express your opinion or talk about something you are not sure about and two questions you can use to ask other people about their opinions. I hope you have found it useful
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