11-Plus Exam Illustrations - Verbal Reasoning Quiz - VR - Compound Words and Inserting Small Words to Make Long Ones (Questions)


Pick two words, one from the top list and one from the bottom list, that together form a new, correctly spelt word.

(examine thought be)
(nation cause full)

The answer is ‘be’ + ‘cause’ forming ‘because’. The possible pitfall answers are to blend ‘examine’ and ‘nation’ which may sound right but is wrong when written out, and adding ‘thought’ to ‘full’ which would sound right but is wrongly spelt. ‘Ful’ is a standard ending; ‘full’ certainly isn’t! I always try to challenge children to think for themselves about words - try asking your child how many words in the English language end 'full'. The answer, as far as I know, is just the one - 'full' itself. All the adverbial endings are 'ful' as are the ones showing capacity, e.g. 'cupful'.

This is actually an example of pronunciation changing in the final word as ‘cause’ becomes ‘cos’ in the way it is pronounced in ‘because’.

As with many of these word-based tests, it's quite reasonable to play games of your own choosing around the basic concept. The best thing for your child is to have them thinking along the right lines whenever they see these types of questions, so here you could have competitions when you're out to see who can find the most words written which can be directly chopped into smaller words. Extra points can be given for words that split into three or more separate words, e.g. cat-a-tonic. Balance out the formal testing with fun activities that challenge the intellect but spark the imagination of your child.

Next comes a section which some children find rather difficult and it can take some a long time to do even though they are speedy in other areas. It involves looking at sentences and spotting groups of letters which have formed words. Words to be ‘found’ are usually four letters long and are spread between two words.

Example 2

The sentence contains a word which has had a group of letters removed. From the choices provided, decide which group of letters fits into the capitalised word and completes it in a way that makes sense within the sentence.

The vegetables were S M E D using boiling water.

Possible answers:

a) TEE b) CHE c) THE d) TEA e) HAM

Technique tip:

Look for an answer by simply reading the sentence and extracting the meaning. Encourage your child to picture a scene where this event is happening and imagine what the missing word could be.

The scene imagined should be about cooking vegetables. A bright child will think of words such as ‘cooked’ and hopefully spot the answer given the possible answers. However, let’s go through the long method which is necessary in many cases.

Take the first possible answer – TEE. Put it in front of the given letters (SMED) and see whether it creates a word and whether that word makes sense in context. If not, try putting the letters after the ‘S’. Keep going until you have tried all combinations with that group of letters and try the second set in each possible position. The results will, of course, look like this:


There has obviously been no word created here although a major clue should have revealed itself. Firstly, a careless child will have thought that ‘steemed’ is a correct answer and they will have marked ‘tee’ on the answer paper. Secondly, a careful child will have spotted that ‘steemed’ sounds like ‘steamed’ and that would be a good answer. They should then concentrate on using one of the other letter strings and aim to make the word ‘steamed’. This would save them going through every combination in turn – it is important to use sensible ideas to save time. The answer is ‘TEA’ as this creates the word ‘STEAMED’. Be aware that using ‘CHE’ could produce the word ‘SCHEMED’ but that would make no sense in the sentence so it can’t be the right answer.

Technique tip:

Spelling is critical – make sure that your child doesn’t miss variations which give correct spellings. Also, look at which part of speech is being asked for – often this gives a guide as verbs often end in ‘ed’ or ‘ing’.

Example 3

The sentence contains a word which has had a group of letters removed. From the choices provided, decide which group of letters fits into the capitalised word and completes it in a way that makes sense within the sentence.

I put the milk in the F G E.

Possible answers:

a) RIM b) LED c) RID d) ARM e) ICE

So, encourage your child to look for the obvious and then work their way through the possibilities systematically. If there is enough in the context of the sentence to provide the answer – as there could easily be – then check through the answers to find the answer which matches the spelling of the word required.

Assuming that there is a need to go through the options, let’s do things systematically:

Using ‘RIM’ we can get the answers


None of these make sense so try ‘LED’ instead:


‘Fledge’ is obviously a word but it makes no sense in the given sentence.

Now try ‘RID’ instead:


We have the word ‘fridge’ and that is the correct answer as it makes sense in context.

Ideally, your child should do these in their head rather than write them down but if they get stuck, they can quickly do it to help them visualise the words.

Technique tip:

If there are particular letters which really don’t go together, that is the place to concentrate on putting the three letter word. For example, in the previous example it was unlikely that F and G went together so once you get used to the technique you can concentrate on putting each of the answers between those two letters.