What Does Subjective Mean?


If you and your friends are engaging in a friendly debate about the “best” movie ever made, you're probably flooding the conversation with subjective viewpoints. When something is subjective, it springs from personal opinion, which means that it can vary from one person to the next.

Distinguishing “Subjective” From “Objective”

  • There is no doubt that the movie “Finding Nemo” is about the underwater adventures of a clownfish (Marlin) as he searches for his abducted son (Nemo) with a regal tang (Dory). This is an objective statement, which means that it's clear-cut and a matter of fact. If you and your friends were asked to choose the funniest character in “Finding Nemo,” however, you might render very different answers. No one is right; no one is wrong. Naturally, your answer might carry more weight if you can support it with examples and illustrations. But in the end, your subjective answer “belongs” to you.

Cement the Meaning with Examples

  • To clarify the meaning of “subjective,” consider two other other examples that require opinion or interpretation. In school, you might be asked to write a paper about the most influential rock band of your generation or the U.S. president who was most adept at addressing domestic crises. Though you could -- and should -- marshal evidence to support your point of view, your bottom-line answer is bound to generate some disagreement. And that's OK, because you're rallying your attitudes, beliefs and perceptions in the process. That's why it's called subjectivity.


  • Photo Credit whitetag/iStock/Getty Images
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