are two quite commonly used adjectives, with meanings that can easily be confused, even though the two words are antonyms of each other.
- Subjective is an adjective, meaning based on or influenced by personal feelings or emotions.
- Objective is an adjective, meaning not based on or influenced personal feelings or emotions, but hard, factual evidence.
The best way to think about the difference between objective
is by looking at the idea of an opinion. An opinion, by its very definition, is subjective
, because it is a personal view on a subject which might have other possibilities. If we say an opinion is objective
, it technically no longer is an opinion because personal interpretation has been removed. This is a question still debated by philosophers, but let’s simplify it by sayingobjective
has to do with unbiased observations and subjective
has to do with biased (personal) evaluations.
Look at these two statements:
- Donald Trump won the 2016 US presidential elections.
- Donald Trump was lucky to win the 2016 US presidential elections.
The first statement is an objective
one. It reflects a fact, with no personal interpretation.
The second statement is a subjective
one. Perhaps it is somewhat factual, perhaps not. But because it is a personal interpretation open to debate, it is said to be subjective
- Russia is the greatest country on earth. Subjective.
- Russia is the largest country on earth.
- The Yankees are the best team in baseball. Subjective.
The Yankees have won the most World Series Championships. Objective.
What Does Objective Mean?
When something is described as objective
, it means that it is an interpretation not based on any personal feeling or emotions.Objective’s
synonyms can be words like impartial
. For example, a referee in a sports game or a judge in a court would make objective
decisions based on the facts before them, not allowing personal feelings to influence those decisions.
When to Use Objective + Original Examples
We use the word objective
as an adjective to describe things that are factual and have no personal or emotional interpretation of those facts.
- I would like to ask someone who doesn’t know me for an objective
- Journalists at the BBC try to be objective, but Brexit is an emotional subject.
- Can a man be truly objective when it comes to judging his family?
can also take the adverb form, objectively
. This is used to describe an action that is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions.
- We hope the members of the jury will look at the facts objectively.
speaking, I can see no reason to continue your treatment.
Objective: Other Definitions
can also be used as a noun. It is completely unrelated to the description above, instead meaning a goal or target.
- His main objective in life was to become a lawyer.
- The objective of football is to score more than the opposing team.
is also used in grammar, i.e. the objective
case, and as a scientific term referring to lenses in a telescope or microscope.
What Does Subjective Mean?
When something is described as subjective
, it means that it is an interpretation that has been influenced by personal feelings or emotions. Synonyms for subjective
could be words like personal
. For example, if you were giving your opinion on a movie or other piece of art, it would be regarded as a subjective
When to Use Subjective + Original Examples
We use the word subjective
to describe things that have a personal interpretation or when the factual nature of a statement can be debated:
- No matter what you say, doctors’ opinions are always subjective.
- I feel your analysis on the issue has become subjective, because you know the people involved.
- Reports on rising crime in America are subjective, with each state interpreting the figure differently.
can also take the adverb form, subjectively
. This is used to describe an action that is interpreted by feelings and opinions.
- Movie reviews and opinion columns are examples of people writing subjectively.
- Lawyers are better when they are not involved subjectively with their cases.
can also be used as a term in grammar, i.e. the subjective
Tips to Remember the Difference
We can break down objective
as the following:
- Objective = Unbiased Observation
- Subjective = Personal Evaluation
There are several tips for remembering the difference between subjective
. One way to remember the difference is to concentrate on the o
Another way to remember is by connecting the s
and the word standpoint
(meaning viewpoint or opinion). Perhaps the easiest, however, is to think of the s
as relating toself
, and the o
as relating to other
It is important to know the difference between the two terms, but the words subjective
are not actually used that frequently in English. However, the concepts of subjectivity and objectivity are of huge importance in journalism, science, literature, philosophy and a whole host of other areas. Whether something is subjective
can lead to a lot of debate, and a good philosopher could probably convince you that nothing is truly objective.
Yet, away from the worlds of science and philosophy, we should simply remember that subjective
is about personal opinions and interpretations, whereas objective
is about unbiased, factual observations.