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English - Odd One Out and Jumbled Sentences

Odd One Out

The English papers carry some elements of the Verbal Reasoning papers and this is an old favourite.

Pick the odd one out of the listed words.


The five words are all usable as adjectives and this is the sort of well-written question which will mislead the unwary. However, as you can probably spot, most of the words have a military connection. They are all ranks in the army with the exception of 'great'.

As usual, the question revolves around a little bit of general knowledge, a bit of English and a lot of effort to trap people who are rushing. Look at the first two words - 'great' and 'major' are very similar in meaning so it is easy to make an error.

Technique tip:

The question setters are deliberately out to trick people. Like it or not, this is their job - to sort the wheat from the chaff. To counter the commonest techniques, try reading a question from back to front. In this case, 'private' and 'corporal' stand out as being army ranks well before the word 'great' stands out as being out of place. I'm not recommending this as a standard approach, merely that it works when you get a bit baffled by things.

Jumbled Sentences

In each sentence there is a word which will not belong once the words have been unscrambled and a sentence created. Find the word which does not belong.

Example – ‘I a walk in at the went garden for’        ('at' is the unnecessary word)

find the unnecessary word in this sentence - asked me pass the salt when she to

When approaching this sort of question it can be a good idea to loosen the brain in a way that we had to with those 'magic eye' pictures that were all the rage a few years ago. To get a handle on the sentence you just need to pick up on key words and see whether the rest falls into place. Don't spend any time trying to write things down in a different order unless you have lots of time and are really stuck.

If it doesn't appear quickly, encourage your child to look for a potential subject of the sentence as the 'key'. In this sentence it is likely to be 'she' although 'salt' is a noun and could therefore be the subject and even 'pass' could be a noun. 'Me' cannot be a subject as it cannot carry out the verb. Next, look for a verb. In this sentence we have 'pass' and 'asked' which could be verbs - 'pass', of course, could also be a noun but it's most commonly used as a verb.

Put the possible subjects in front of the possible verbs and see what emerges. 'Pass' cannot be used by any of the possible subjects that we have here. You cannot say 'she pass', for example. The subject must go with the verb 'asked'. The only subject that would work with 'asked' is 'she' so we can try starting the sentence with this.

She asked...        me pass the salt when to

There is no reason to start the sentence with the subject but it's a helpful idea. The rest of the sentence can now be re-arranged to form a sentence which reads:

She asked me to pass the salt.

The remaining word, which has not been used, is 'when' so this is the answer.

Example 2

Find the word which does not belong – ‘once Sun Earth day goes the around a the year’

In the previous example we looked at how a child should pick out key words in order to complete the sentence. In this one we can say the same thing but also there is an element of scientific knowledge required. While there is no direct science test to get in to most schools, independents in particular will be keen to check on whether your child has a broad general knowledge of things which should have been taught in school.

The possible subjects in this sentence are 'Sun', 'Earth', 'day' and 'year' while we have 'a' and 'the' to help as well. The only verb is 'goes', which makes life easier. We can therefore say the subject will be either 'the moon' or 'the sun' as they are the only things that fit neatly without leaving some other words which would not fit.

If we start with 'The sun goes...' then the word 'around' would fit very neatly with it and the rest falls into place - 'The Sun goes around the Earth once a day', perhaps? Obviously not - we have a number of sentences which would make GRAMMATICAL sense but not FACTUAL sense. Therefore ask your child to check that whatever they have come up with is not only accurate in terms of English but also makes sense scientifically.

By switching words around but retaining the appropriate structure of the sentence, you reach:

The Earth goes around the Sun once a year

Not only is it GRAMMATICALLY correct but it is FACTUALLY correct. Therefore the odd word out is 'day'.

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