Opinion of, Opinion on, Opinion about

By Maeve Maddox

A reader objected to the use of “on” in an example given in a post about prepositions:

REFERENCE: He asked my opinion on the matter. IMHO, I think this use is a stretch. I would substitute “about” for “on.” “He asked my opinion about the matter.” More and more it seems that writers have forgotten the word “about” and use “on” instead, a rather annoying tendency.

According to an informal web search using quotation marks around the phrases, opinion of is more common than either opinion on or opinion about:

“opinion about” 7,470,000 hits
“opinion on” 18,600,000 hits
“opinion of” 52,800,000 hits

The OED entry for opinion reflects this apparent preference, offering one example each for “opinion on” and “opinion about,” but 24 for “opinion of.”

All three sound fine to me.

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5 Responses to “Opinion of, Opinion on, Opinion about”

  • Karla

    It depends on context: “What is the opinion of the court?” “I don’t have much of an opinion of him.” “My opinion about that is…” I think “opinion on” is more of a regionalism. Here in Texas, they add “on” to all kinds of things: “I’ve been waiting on my ride for a long time.” Not being from Texas, I would say “I’ve been waiting *for* my ride for a long time.”

  • Charles Green

    I see “opinion of” as distinct from the other two, as Karla notes; for example, one might say “The opinion of (one person) about (another person) …” – I would take “opinion of” to refer to the entity having the opinion, while “opinion on/about” to refer to the target of that entity’s opinion.

  • Josh

    I am not a native speaker, but I absolutely agree with Charles Green.
    Scanning a textcorpus (be it the world wide web) does not take you anywhere, if you don’t check the sense of the passages you find. The results of a famous search engine support Charles’ view on that subject, too.

  • sabbatical

    What is the right preposition to use in the phrase ‘an opinion ABOUT or ON what to do…’?

  • Frenchfolly

    I’m a native speaker and I agree with Charles Green on the difference between ‘opinion on’ and ‘opinion of’, however I find ‘opinion about’ sounds clumsy and suspect this is a colloquialism in certain areas rather than correct English.

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