Is there any significant difference in the meanings of sentence 1 and sentence 2 below?

  1. Mr. Jones is of a view that the project is unnecessary.
  2. Mr. Jones is of the view that the project is unnecessary.

Sentence 2 seems more natural, but sentence 1 does not seem absolutely wrong; “is of a view that” gets many hits on Google.

However, looking for a similar construction, I would say “I am of the opinion that X is Y”, but not “I am of an opinion that X is Y.”

  • You can use either "a view" or "the view". There is no difference in meaning. – Mark Beadles Nov 14 '12 at 15:43

"Is of the view" is commonly used in Ireland today. For example, "I'm of the view that we'll win the match tonight." "Of a view" sounds wrong to my ears although it may well be valid and common in other countries.

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  • It's certainly not "wrong". It's perfectly grammatical English, just stilted, verbose, archaic, pretentious, and, as it seems from your field report about its use in Ireland, regional. It's a little worse than the contemporary use in so many brands of English of "prior to", which is merely stilted, verbose, and pretentious but not archaic. Who knows why speakers want to say such things? [NB: Rhetorical question.] Trendiness, conformism, autoresponder mode toggled ON, clichézilla app constantly running, belief in false language gods, too much alcohol, or too many sugary drinks, I suppose. – user21497 Nov 14 '12 at 9:18
  • @Bill Franke As I said it may well be valid but it sounds alien to me. – Baz Nov 14 '12 at 9:22
  • Yes, it sounds alien to me too. :-) – user21497 Nov 14 '12 at 9:36

Both of the sentences are verbose and stilted, regardless of how many hits they get on Google. This is archetypical (also archetypal) pretentious prose.

Mr Jones believes (that) the project is unnecessary

is normal, felicitous American English.

Thinks or feels can replace believes.

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  • Mr. Jones needs time off and should be sent to Oklahoma -:) – Noah Nov 14 '12 at 5:57
  • +1. Earlier generations, of course, wrote of opinion that - no article. – Barrie England Nov 14 '12 at 7:44

Sentence 1 seems to imply that there are many other views of the project.

Sentence 2 seems to imply that there are other people who share her view.

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  • 1
    Those are possible interpretations based on a literal translation of the denotation of the preposition and the article. However, in practice, most people don't think that deeply about such stuff before they speak. Only people who feel treed or cornered think in terms of "That depends on what you mean by 'is'". – user21497 Nov 14 '12 at 4:05

You mentioned "many hits on Google". When doing a search like this, I recommend switching the search from a Google web search (which will pick up hits on forums, blogs, tweets, and other sundry places where people mistype, misspeak, and misuse the language), to a Google book search (which limits the search to published works).

(You can accomplish this by selecting Books under the More... option, above the search results).

Here's what I found:

  • When I looked up "is of the view that" on Google books, I found well over 5 million hits.

  • When I changed that to "is of a view that" on Google books, I found five.

Even though the latter phrasing doesn't sound awkward to me, I don't usually buck convention when the results are that tilted in favor of one instance of an expression over another.

Incidentally, I also changed the search, and checked these expressions:

When worded that way, both expressions get about 5,000 hits each.

So, when wording it this way:

Mr. Jones is of the view that the project is unnecessary.

I would stick with using the, but if I were to change that to:

Mr. Jones has the view that the project is unnecessary.

then I'd be less leery of using has a view in place of has the view.

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I would say that there is no significant difference in meaning. However, I've looked at a couple of corpora and "to be of the view that..." is far more common that "to be of a view that...".

The same is true of "I am of the/an opinion that": "the opinion" is far more common than "an opinion" on the corpora, though both are possible.

As Bill Franke says, it would probably be better to say "Mr. Jones thinks/believes/feels that the project is unnecessary", which is a simpler and less pretentious construction.

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  • My opinions about style are, of course, purely personal & based on my commitment to what is often called "the plain style in American English". But only in formal expository prose and technical writing. A corollary is that verbosity is intrinsically pretentious. While I appreciate brevity, terribly terse talking often borders on the curt & inherently antisocial reticence (I tend to be antisocial but rarely reticent). This PDF has a good list of verbosities & brevities (pp 14-18). – user21497 Nov 14 '12 at 9:33

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