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Comprehension Skills - Identifying Relevant Linguistic Expression

Comprehension Skills - Identifying Relevant Linguistic Expression

 

In this article, we will be looking into identifying relevant linguistic expression / vocabulary questions in comprehension passages.

 

 

Identifying Relevant Linguistic Expression

 

 

Sample questions:

 

  1. Which word conveys the idea that the place is enormous? (1m)
  2. Identify two words that convey the idea of a battle. (2m)
  3. Identify a phrase that conveys the opposite effect. (1m)

 

 

Things to take note of:

 

  1. Phrase - 2 or more words, not amounting to a sentence. Be concise to prevent excess in your answers
  2. Use quotation marks
  3. Copy exactly and carefully, take note of capitalisation of required letters and punctuation marks such as hyphens

 

 

Example

The text below recounts the experience of a foreign worker in Singapore.

 

Paragraph 1

It was a blisteringly hot day. The morning sun seethed with unmet madness in the sky. The sun was burning his eyes as Ming took in the unremarkable sight below him - hundreds of men in yellow helmets packed in the cavernous construction site like an upturned beehive let loose. When the nauseous feeling passed over him, Ming could not resist leaning forward again from where he squatted, surveying the foreign world below him.

 

Example Question:

Which word conveys the idea that the place is enormous? (1m)

 

Answer:

‘Cavernous’ conveys the same meaning or message that ‘enormous’ conveys. Enormous means extremely large and cavernous means very large and often empty and/or dark like a cave. So, the answer is ‘cavernous’.

 

 

Paragraph 2

Assigned to pave cement on the roof, Ming wondered if the ground forty storeys below him was as stubbornly hot as where he was. Where he was, the ground surprised his feet with the heaviness of heat burning through his safety boots. At the thought of his body hurtling accidentally down the point of no return and meeting the ground within seconds, cold sweat broke his skin. He retreated a little from the unfinished edge of the roof, the sun raining angrily down on his back.

 

Paragraph 3

The dank, dead weight of unforgiving heat and humidity dogged him by surprise. There was little clarity to feel up there in the head when baked in the heat. Ming suddenly thought about his hometown in Hubei - walking in the creeping cold with wisps of winter in the air - when he could think so clearly, so effortlessly. As if nature heard his thoughts, a slight warm breeze nudged the air, startling the beads of perspiration gathering earnestly on his temple.

 

 

Practice Questions

 

Paragraph 4

Just before he arrived in Singapore, he was huddled in layers of wool scrunching across the snow-swept ground he could barely feel, the milk-colour of whiteness in the air blinding him, the harsh cold of winter biting into his heart. Where he was now, perched on the roof, it was the other way round. Ming was all ready to ditch the white singlet on him, surrendering it like a white flag to the onslaught of the punishing heat.

 

Question 1:

Identify two words that convey the idea of a battle. (2m)

 

  1. ‘white flag’
  2. White flag
  3. ‘surrendering’ and ‘onslaught’
  4. Surrendering and onslaught.

 

Answer:

C) ‘surrendering’ and ‘onslaught’

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is Option (C) - ‘surrendering’ and ‘onslaught’. Options (A) & (B) are incorrect as white flag is a sign that you accept defeat and wish to stop fighting. And as the question states that we need to provide 2 words, it means 2 words which are separated from each other.

 

 

Paragraph 5

The heat rising up from the concrete was too much to take it all in as his body leaked under the weight. Before he lost consciousness, before his parched body hit the free flight to the ground, his mind set adrift by the sun out in full force, he could only watch as each drop downward - whittling past each storey of the unfinished HDB block - took out the dead weight of life on him. He couldn’t ignore the irony, the prospect of being truly alive when dead.

 

Paragraph 6

Singapore is a safe place. From his village, a handful had worked in the city-state. For those who didn’t land a job there, they had left the village for the bigger, richer cities in the country. Like others before him, he wanted to take in the world before it was lost to him. He felt compelled to leave as others had done to build a better world for themselves and their families. In the thirty-minute journey from the airport to the workers’ dormitory, Ming drank in the gleaming prospect of a future that would have been out of reach if he had stayed behind in his hometown. Yet, he felt dehydrated of hope.

 

Question 2:

What does the word ‘gleaming’ (line 6) suggest about Ming’s feelings during the journey from the airport? (1m)

 

  1. Ming was optimistic.
  2. Ming was shining.
  3. Ming was feeling bright.
  4. Ming was nostalgic.

 

Answer:

A) Ming was optimistic.

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is Option (A) - “Ming was optimistic”. Gleaming means shining brightly, but this is not a literal meaning. It is a form of figurative language. It is meant to say in the passage that the future is shining brightly and good for Ming. Options (B) & (C) are incorrect as they convey the literal meaning and not figurative.

 

 

Question 3:

Identify a phrase that conveys the opposite (of the previous answer of optimistic). (1m)

 

  1. ‘compelled to leave’
  2. ‘drank in’
  3. ‘out of reach’
  4. ‘dehydrated of hope’

 

Answer:

D) ‘dehydrated of hope’

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is Option (D) - ‘dehydrated of hope’. The actual meaning of dehydrated refers to when someone loses too much water from the body and requires water to nourish the body with fluids. But, in this case, he was dehydrated of hope, which means he feels like he has lost all hope.

 

 

Paragraph 7

As he took in the neat cityscape of buildings interspersed with trees that lined the smooth roads, Ming caught the parallel paradox of his situation - he was there to build the buildings as he tried to build a life for himself and his family while unbuilding his very presence back home. He wondered: How many of these inanimate structures would he have to build to truly set himself free? Despite the air-conditioning in the van, the sun creeping into his eyes was too much for Ming to bear. There was little clarity in his head to think about those thoughts that emerged onto the shoreline of his consciousness. He was exhausted, exhausted at both the prospect of what he had left behind, and of what was to come before him.

 

Question 4:

Ming ‘was there to build the buildings as he tried to build a life for himself and his family while unbuilding his very presence back home’ (lines 2-3). Explain in your own words the paradox in Ming’s situation. (2m)

 

  1. Ming builds buildings in Singapore (1) but is unbuilding his presence back home (1).
  2. Ming came to Singapore to improve his family’s situation (1) but it has caused his ties with his family to deteriorate (1).
  3. Ming is trying to make his family’s life better (1) but they do not appreciate it (1).
  4. Ming is trying to make his life better (1) but is failing (1).

 

Answer:

B) Ming came to Singapore to improve his family’s situation (1) but it has caused his ties with his family to deteriorate (1).

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is Option (B) - “Ming came to Singapore to improve his family’s situation (1) but it has caused his ties with his family to deteriorate”. Option (A) is entirely copied and thus not correct. 'In your own words' questions are not inferential questions as inferential questions require you to infer or think deeper to evaluate. IYOW questions just require you to change the words without analysing. Options (C) & (D) are inferences and thus incorrect.

 

 

Test Your Concepts

Answer the following questions based on the concepts we’ve covered in this article. If you get stuck, revisit the relevant section to revise the concepts.

 

Paragraph 8

In those last moments when he suddenly lost consciousness in the fierceness of the heat, when he fought to keep himself from tipping over the edge of no return, he wondered where his son would be when he’s all grown up. Surely, he would be happy, in a meaningful job, blissfully married in an affluent China? Would he look more like him, or his mother - a face crumbled with unfounded worry when he broke the news to her on his plan to work in Singapore? Don’t go, she begged. I’m still young, 35, strong enough to do the work, he replied. I want a better life for you and our son. Two years, I’ll be back. Our son will only be almost three years old then, just in time for him to learn to talk and call me papa. Don’t worry, nothing will happen. Singapore is a safe place.

 

Question 5:

Choose a phrase to summarise the main thoughts and feelings presented in this paragraph. (1m)

 

  1. an unfulfilled life
  2. a bleak future
  3. family ties
  4. nostalgic musings

 

 

Paragraph 9

Taking in the last breath of dust chalked up by the cement around him, it wasn’t lost on Ming that he hadn’t seen much of the garden city that he had come to see. Neither had he built the buildings he had come to build, nor the promises of the future that was his to keep.

 

Question:

Choose a phrase to summarise the main thoughts and feelings presented in this paragraph. (1m)

 

  1. an unfulfilled life
  2. a bleak future
  3. family ties
  4. nostalgic musings

 

 

The text below is a personal recount of a woman who hiked Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe.

 

Paragraph 1

Last summer, desperately needing to reconnect with myself and process some of my life’s happenings, I spontaneously decided to embark on my first solo hike: The Tour du Mont Blanc. It is a 170-kilometre scenic trail around the mountains, passing through France, Italy and Switzerland.

 

Question:

Pick one word that suggests the writer acted on impulse. (1m)

 

  1. Spontaneously
  2. ‘spontaneously’
  3. Desperately
  4. ‘desperately’

 

 

Paragraph 2

I was living in Berlin at the time, and as always, I was well prepared for the trip: I booked my 21-hour bus ride from Berlin to Geneva at 2am the night before departure! With such extensive preparation, I ended up lacking a few essentials: a paper map, hiking boots, a waterproof tent, hiking poles, and sunscreen.

 

Question:

What does ‘as always’ (line 1) suggest about the way the writer prepared for her trip? (1m)

 

  1. It was her usual way.
  2. It was the first time.
  3. It was persistent.
  4. It was tiresome.
Continue Learning
Comprehension Skills (Narrative Text) Comprehension Skills (Inferential Questions)
Continuous Writing: Personal Recount Continuous Writing - Expository
Comprehension Skills (IYOW Questions) Comprehension Skills (Non-narrative Text) - Dialogue Questions
Comprehension Skills (Non-narrative Text) - Summary Writing Skills Comprehension Skills (Narrative Text) - Flowchart Questions
Comprehension Skills (Narrative Text) Unusual & Effective Questions Comprehension Skills (Non-narrative Text) Direct Questions
Editing Comprehension Skills - Referencing Questions
Comprehension Skills - Direct Recall Of Relevant Material, Paraphrasing Text 2 Skills: Literacy Devices
Comprehension Skills (Narrative Text) Literary Devices Irony
Summary Writing Situational Writing - Formal Letter of Complaint
Comprehension Skills - Language Arts Comprehension Skills - Vocabulary-based Questions
Comprehension Skills - Identifying Relevant Linguistic Expression Comprehension Skills (Narrative Text) Technique-Based Questions
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Comprehension Skills (Non-narrative Text) - Summary Writing Skills
Comprehension Skills (Narrative Text) - Flowchart Questions
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Comprehension Skills (Non-narrative Text) Direct Questions
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Comprehension Skills - Referencing Questions
Comprehension Skills - Direct Recall Of Relevant Material, Paraphrasing
Text 2 Skills: Literacy Devices
Comprehension Skills (Narrative Text) Literary Devices
Irony
Summary Writing
Situational Writing - Formal Letter of Complaint
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Comprehension Skills - Identifying Relevant Linguistic Expression
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