5. Beliefs and opinions

5. Beliefs and opinions

The family debate prison time.

Main Practice:  beliefs and opinions
Revision:            that's a bit + negative adjective  -  supposing  -  by the way

assessment -                         an evaluation, judgement 
a balanced view -                an opinion that is not extreme; rational
a case by case basis -        taking each case individually
a debate -                               a formal discussion aimed at reaching a conclusion
a penalty -                             a punishment of some kind
a (prison) sentence -         the time a person is held in prison
opinions are divided -      there is split opinion among people

reform -  improvement, i.e.
  • The tax system is badly in need of reform

to have a point -  when someone agrees with at least part of your argument, i.e.
- If you legalise all drugs then you remove the criminality.
- You have a point, but wouldn't there be a danger of creating more drug addicts?

to have serious misgivings -   doubts or worries about something, i.e.
  • I have serious misgivings about the government's new educational policy. 

to make assumptions  / to assume  -   to believe something to be true without proof, i.e.
  • I think he's dishonest.
  • Don't make assumptions, you have no proof that he is.

  • Sorry I'm late.
  • That's all right, I assumed you would be, you usually are.

to share someone's opinion - to think the same as them


A TV report that a man found guilty of murder has received
a 15-year prison sentence prompts a discussion in the
family about what is a fair sentence for the crime of murder.

Complete the sentences.
Katie:  That seems wrong. That guy murdered someone and he's only getting
               fifteen years in prison.

Sam:     You can't without knowing the facts. And fifteen years
               is a long time, Katie.

Katie:   Well, fifteen years is not long enough.

Tim:      We debated crime and punishment at school. I that the
                penalty for murder should be a life sentence, and by ‘life' I mean life: the
                offender dies in prison.

Bill:       That wouldn't give the criminal the chance to reform, Tim. Supposing
                a young man of twenty commits murder but when he's thirty-five he's
                a completely different person and bitterly regrets what he's done.

Tim:      Well, I still think fifteen years is not enough.

Katie:    But Dad's . I have about
                ‘life meaning life' in prison.

Sam:      I , Katie: life imprisonment shouldn't mean the
                whole of a person's life but, Bill, it needs to be more than fifteen years.

Bill:       Well, I think we should take a based on the facts of the
                crime and an assessment of the criminal while they're in prison. And
                that might mean, for example, sentences of twenty or thirty years.

Sam:     Yes, I agree with that. By the way, Tim, what happened in your school debate?

Tim:      Well, . A small minority wanted the death penalty
                for murder.  About a third of our class wanted ‘life to mean life'. But the
                majority took Dad's view, that punishment should be decided on a case by
                case basis.


The governors of a school have been discussing how a donation of money they've been given for the school should be spent.

Complete the sentences.
Remember: use a capital letter if necessary.

balanced view - firmly believe - opinions were divided - serious misgivings

- How did the meeting go?

- Not well. We didn't reach a conclusion. , almost half of us
   thought the money should be spent on a new swimming pool for the school. And
   everyone else was either for a theatre or improved computer technology.

- What's your opinion?

- Well, I have  about the pool. The only land we can get  
   is four kilometres from the school and I think the pool would be under-used
   for what it will cost. I the theatre is the best option. We have a
   very strong drama department, it needs a theatre. And we have a very well-resourced
   computer centre already.

- Well, that sounds like a .