How to Write Good ChatGPT Prompts
With the popular AI writing tool ChatGPT, the responses you get are only as good as the prompts you use. Prompts are the textual inputs you enter for the tool to respond to. To create good ChatGPT prompts, keep these tips in mind:
Be aware of the limitations of ChatGPT. For example, the tool sometimes makes things up. ChatGPT is not always trustworthy, so it’s important to check any facts you’re not sure about against credible sources.
Give ChatGPT a role to play
The following phrases can be used to assign a role to ChatGPT:
- Act like (my) ____.
- Be (my) ____.
- Play the role of (my) ____.
This will explain your expectations and encourage the tool to give the kinds of responses you want.
Example: Play the role of my Spanish teacher
- Play the role of my Spanish teacher. Teach me new vocabulary, explaining the words in English.
- Of course! I’ll be happy to play the role of your Spanish teacher. Let’s start by learning some new vocabulary. I’ll provide you with the Spanish words and their English translations. Feel free to ask any questions you may have.
- Hola – Hello
- Gracias – Thank you
- Por favor – Please
- Adiós – Goodbye
- Sí – Yes
- No – No
- ¿Cómo estás? – How are you?
Check out the prompts below. Click on the different tabs to see examples for different themes. You can use the example prompts yourself (just click the copy button to the right) or take them as a starting point to inspire your own prompts.
Be precise and provide context
The more precisely your prompts are worded and the more context you provide, the better ChatGPT will understand what kind of answer you are looking for. Let’s look at a new version of the prompt from the previous section, updated to give more precise instructions.
Example: Play the role of my Spanish teacher (more precise)
- Play the role of my Spanish teacher. Teach me 20 new words on the theme of shopping for clothes. Adjust the vocabulary to my level: I’m in the 9th grade and have been studying Spanish for two years.
- ¡Hola! Soy tu profesor/a de español. Hoy vamos a aprender palabras relacionadas con ir de compras para ropa. Estoy emocionado/a de enseñarte nuevas palabras. ¡Comencemos!
- Ropa (Clothes) – La ropa es lo que usamos para vestirnos.
- Tienda (Store) – Es el lugar donde compramos la ropa.
- Pantalones (Pants) – Una prenda de vestir que cubre las piernas.
- Camiseta (T-shirt) – Una prenda de vestir que cubre el torso y los brazos.
- Vestido (Dress) – Una prenda de vestir para las chicas que cubre el cuerpo desde los hombros hasta los pies.
- Chaqueta (Jacket) – Una prenda de vestir que se lleva encima de la camisa o el suéter.
Examples: Imprecise prompts without context
- Teach me Spanish vocabulary.
- What are some good activities?
- Explain photosynthesis.
- Be my writing coach.
Examples: Precise prompts with context
- Teach me 30 new Spanish words on the theme of politics.
- What are some healthy and inexpensive leisure activities for a 25-year-old single man living in New York?
- I work in an elementary school, teaching children who are 6 or 7 years old. I want to explain photosynthesis to the children. Give a short explanation with an example that children in that age range can understand. Keep the language simple and explain the basics.
- Be my writing coach. At the beginning, ask me for a sample text to assess my strengths and weaknesses as an author. Then design a writing training session tailored to my needs, which will enable me to promote my strengths and improve my weaknesses. Split this writing practice into different answers (don’t give me the whole lesson in one go).
Helpful phrases for your prompts
The following phrases can help you to build up more specific prompts to get the best possible answers to your questions. Think of them as building blocks that can be combined however you like to meet your purposes:
- Act like my ____.
- Be my ____.
- I am ____.
- I need ____.
- I need help with ____.
- My goal is to ____.
- Do ____.
- Give me ____.
- Generate ____.
- I will do ____, and you will do ____.
- Answer in the following format: ____.
- Avoid phrases like “____”.
- I just want you to ask me questions.
- I don’t want you to ask me any questions.
- Your answer should be no longer than ____ words.
- Ask me a follow-up question at the end of each response.
- Keep asking me questions until you have all the information you need.
- Answer in three sentences.
Bias is a distortion in someone’s (or something’s) thinking or behavior. Bias occurs due to people’s preferences, prejudices, and stereotypes.
Responses from AI tools like ChatGPT can also be biased. This is sometimes simply a result of biases in the tool’s training data, which you can’t directly do anything about.
But it can also result from how you phrase your prompts. ChatGPT is designed to give you the answers you want, so if you ask a question in a leading way, it will give you the kind of response you implicitly asked for, producing a biased answer.
Example: Prompt with bias
- Explain in three sentences why organic food is clearly overrated and offers no advantages over conventional food.
- Organic food is often marketed as healthier and more nutritious than conventional food, but scientific evidence shows no consistent or significant differences in nutritional content. The use of organic farming methods, such as avoiding synthetic pesticides, can lead to lower crop yields and higher production costs, making organic food more expensive for consumers without clear benefits. Ultimately, consumers should make choices based on personal preferences and values rather than assuming that organic food is inherently superior.
Using a prompt like this is not likely to result in a balanced view of the issue. ChatGPT obviously only mentions the downsides of organic food, since that’s what you asked for. This runs the risk of confirmation bias (where you only look for information that confirms your beliefs).
An unbiased version of the same prompt, in which we ask about both sides of the issue, is shown below.
Example: Prompt without bias
- In a paragraph, summarize the pros and cons of consuming organic food instead of conventional food.
- Consuming organic food offers several pros and cons compared to conventional food. On the positive side, organic food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or synthetic fertilizers. This makes it a healthier option, as it reduces the potential exposure to harmful chemicals and promotes environmental sustainability. Organic farming practices also prioritize soil and water conservation, biodiversity preservation, and animal welfare. However, organic food can be more expensive and may have a shorter shelf life due to the absence of certain preservatives. Additionally, the yield per acre in organic farming is generally lower, leading to higher production costs and potentially limited availability. Critics argue that the nutritional differences between organic and conventional food are minimal and not significant enough to justify the higher price. Overall, the decision to consume organic food depends on personal values, health considerations, and affordability.
Test and improve your prompts
ChatGPT won’t always give you exactly what you want on the first try. For the best results, test your prompts several times and try to improve them step by step. You can follow up on answers in the same chat, or start again with a reworked prompt in a new chat.
Example: Following up on answers
- Give me some examples of riddles.
- Sure! Here are a few examples of riddles for you:
- I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have no body, but I come alive with the wind. What am I? Answer: An echo.
- What has keys but can’t open locks? Answer: A piano.
- Please give me another riddle, but don’t tell me the answer. I will try to figure it out for myself, and you tell me if I’m right.
- Of course! Here’s a riddle for you:I have keys but no locks. I have space but no room. You can enter but can’t go outside. What am I?
Feel free to take your time and think about it. Once you’re ready, let me know your answer, and I’ll let you know if you’re correct!
- A keyboard
- Great guess! The answer is indeed a keyboard. Well done!
While improving your prompts, bear in mind the tips from the previous sections: be precise, give sufficient context, and avoid bias.
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Frequently asked questions about ChatGPT prompts
- What are ChatGPT prompts?
ChatGPT prompts are the textual inputs (e.g., questions, instructions) that you enter into ChatGPT to get responses.
ChatGPT predicts an appropriate response to the prompt you entered. In general, a more specific and carefully worded prompt will get you better responses.
- What makes a good ChatGPT prompt?
A good ChatGPT prompt (i.e., one that will get you the kinds of responses you want):
- Gives the tool a role to explain what type of answer you expect from it
- Is precisely formulated and gives enough context
- Is free from bias
- Has been tested and improved by experimenting with the tool
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