Subjective vs. Objective: What’s the Difference?

It’s often easy to confuse the difference between subjective and objective, but misusing them will cause poorly conferred information.

In order to use them properly, you need to know what each word means.

What Does Subjective Mean?

Subjective is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “influenced by or based on personal beliefs or feelings, rather than based on facts”. So, for example, my saying the weather is beautiful is subjective. It cannot be measured and is based on how I personally feel about the weather.

What Does Objective Mean?

Objective is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “based on real facts and not influenced by personal beliefs or feelings”. A good example of objective is the statement, “The weather today will be seventy-five degrees and sunny.” This statement is based on fact and is measurable rather than how I feel about the weather.

Examples of Subjective and Objectives

Here are a couple of examples of subjective vs objective in sentences.

Subjective Examples

“You can’t say cilantro tastes good because that’s a very subjective idea. I think it tastes terrible!”

“Mary’s testimony is subjective and therefore inadmissible.”

“I know you think this building is ugly, but all opinions are subjective and I find it beautiful.”

“Telling people Christmas is a wonderful time of year is very subjective; some people hate it.”

Objective Examples

“Larry, stop hollering your opinions; you need to stay objective if you want to be a reporter.”

“I know you love cats, but if you look at it objectively, you can’t afford to care for ten of them.”

“An objective measurement will tell us exactly how high the water has risen.”

“Telling me the billboard is huge is not objective. I need measurements in feet and inches.”

Additional Usages of Objective and Subjective

Be sure you don’t confuse the difference between subjective and objective in a statement. If we say that Gordon’s feet are size sixteen, that’s objective. Saying Gordon’s feet are enormous is subjective.

Objectivity can also be a good way around being hurting someone’s feelings. For example, if someone were to ask you about the size of Gordon’s feet, you would simply mention his shoe size and leave out the subjective assessment of huge.

Another example of using objectivity to wiggle out of a jam is if someone asks your opinion on clothing you don’t like. Find an objective measurement such as color, and add your subjective opinion to that.

If you’re asked by your girlfriend how they look in their new dress, you could simply tell them you love the green color. The dress is green (objective), you like the green color (subjective). This lets you use both objectivity and subjectivity while avoiding telling her you hate the dress.

In a job setting, it’s important to use these words correctly. If your supervisor were to ask how a project is going, using subjective answers might imply you don’t really know. Instead of saying it’s going really well (subjective), employ objective measurements to your response. For example, “The job was projected to take three weeks to complete, but my team will have it done in two.”

A Good Way to Remember Subjective vs Objective

Subjective means you’re giving your standpoint on an idea or thing.

S=subjective, S=standpoint

Objective means you’re giving an observable fact.

O=objective, O=observe

Another way to remember is to ask yourself if you can measure it. If you can measure it, it’s objective. If you cannot, it’s subjective.

Examples

Brian is five feet, ten inches tall. This is objective because you can observe his height (O=objective, O=observe).

Brian is very tall. This is subjective because you cannot measure ‘very tall’. To someone 6’5″ tall, he would be short, to someone 4′ tall, he’d be tall, therefore his height of tall or short is based on a person’s standpoint (S=subjective, S=standpoint).

Now that you have subjectivity and objectivity squared away, for forth and use your powers for good!

 


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