Conflicting, positive or strongly held? Using the word ‘opinion’

close-up of a hand drawing five yellow stars with a yellow highlighter pen
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by Liz Walter

You will probably already know several ways to express your opinions in English. This post is about something different: the words we use with the noun opinion – in other words, its collocations.

Although it is fine to say that someone has an opinion, hold is a slightly more advanced collocation. We sometimes say that people have strongly held opinions:

Many people hold strong opinions about gun law.

He has some strongly held opinions about education.

Similarly, although we can ask someone’s opinion, if we want to be a little more formal or literary, we can say we seek it. With the uncountable sense of ‘opinion’, meaning the views of a group of people, we also use the verb canvass:

They conducted a survey to seek opinions from their employees.

We want to canvass public opinion about the proposed development.

When people give us their opinions, we say that they express, state, or voice them:

She was never afraid to voice her opinions.

If someone has a high opinion of someone or something, they like them very much. A generally good opinion might be described as favourable (UK)/favorable (US) or positive:

I don’t have a very high opinion of doctors.

She had formed a favourable opinion of the hotel.

On the other hand, a bad opinion might be described as low, poor, negative, or unfavourable (UK)/unfavorable (US):

I had rather a poor opinion of her acting skills.

If you respect or value someone’s opinion, you think it is useful or important. A considered opinion has been thought about a lot, and a valid opinion is one that is reasonable and should be accepted:

I’ve always respected my parents’ opinions.

His opinion is valid, but I don’t agree with it.

Of course, one of the key characteristics of opinions is that people have different ones! We say that opinions differ/vary/are divided over a particular issue. If something is a matter of opinion, people have different views about it. Conflicting opinions are very different and make compromise difficult, and when opinions are polarized, they are completely opposite:

On this issue, opinions are divided.

Whether or not the course is worth doing is a matter of opinion.

They split up because of their conflicting opinions about religion.

The things we experience in our lives form or shape our opinions and sometimes cause us to change or revise them:

These experiences helped shape her opinion of the healthcare system.

I thought she was a bit boring, but after this evening, I’ve revised my opinion!

I hope you have found these collocations useful. Many of them can be used in other contexts which, in my humble opinion, make them well worth learning!

15 thoughts on “Conflicting, positive or strongly held? Using the word ‘opinion’

  1. Briki

    Very interesting collocations of the
    opinion word using adjectives , verbs, and expression as ‘a matter of opinion’…In the democratic debate for example,opinions’degree may be conflicting and polarized or more postive or favorable then less negative or unfavouurable making possible for people stating or voicing their agreement and disagreement …what enriches our vocabulary.Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. I’ve a question regarding the first sentence of the post:

    “You will probably already know several ways to express your opinions in English.”

    I understand that “will” is used here to express the speaker’s certainty that the affirmation is true. Is is not contradictory to use “probably” then? I imagine it may be a matter of style but is this sentence gramatically correct? Could someone pick on it?

    PS. I enjoy the blog so much!

    1. Denis

      Hi there,
      Yes, quite frankly, it sounds a bit awkward to me too. Nevertheless, this use of will is indeed grammatically correct for the for the following reason.
      Among other uses, will is used to make predictions about the present when the speaker is certain. In other words, he or she makes a deduction because of what they know about the situation.
      For further information, please follow this link:

      Best wishes

    2. Liz Walter

      That’s a really interesting question and I’m not entirely sure I can answer it! It’s definitely a correct sentence in English. You could miss out ‘will’ and it would still be correct. To me, it’s a really subtle issue and although I didn’t think about it at the time, I think I wanted to imply a greater likelihood that it would be true than if I had omitted the ‘will’. I’ll think about this a bit more!

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