The phrase According to me is not a natural English expression and it is not the same as In my opinion.
How to Use ‘According to’
According to + [person / source of information]
- According to Sir Isaac Newton, there are three laws of motion.
- According to the dictionary, the term ‘VIP’ means Very Important Person.
According to is used to provide the source of an idea or information. This source should not be you.
If this source is a person, he or she is often an expert (e.g. According to Professor Barton, ‘according to me’ is a strange expression.) Therefore, when you say, “According to me”, you are implying that you are an expert on the topic. (You are probably not an expert in most cases, and therefore, the expression shouldn’t be used.) Instead, use In my opinion, ..
According to does not always refer to an idea from an expert, however. It can also mean that an idea was stated by someone else. Here is another example:
A: According to my roommate, recycling is a waste of time.
B: That’s what he thinks? He sounds lazy.
Here, the phrase According to my roommate is used to show that the idea is not your own. You are not saying that your roommate is an expert (though he may think he is). In this way, it creates some distance between the speaker (you) and the idea.
As Stated By
In this sense, according to is similar to the phrase as stated by. Just like it would be strange to say “As stated by me,” it is strange to say “According to me“. If you did so, you would be citing yourself, which is unusual.
In summary, according to [source] is often used with a credible source, such as an expert, though it can also be used simply to introduce an idea that is not your own.
So is ‘According to me’ wrong?
No, according to me is not wrong. It is unusual, however. It would be better to use In my opinion (or a similar expression) when giving your own opinion. Note that I speak North American English. Still, based on my research, these rules seem to also apply to British English. In my experience, this is a common error made by Indian students.
I hope that you have found this useful. Please leave your comments and questions below.
– Matthew Barton (copyright) / Creator of Englishcurrent.com