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VR - Spotting Synonyms


Find TWO words, one from each group, that are closest in meaning.

(develop trough bucket)
(pale grow thought)

This is one of the more common types of question to be found in verbal reasoning papers. It's not too difficult to do and most children get the general idea with minimal explanation. However, there are certainly some traps that the question setters are going to use to catch out the unwary.

This example is hopefully fairly straightforward. The top row contains the word 'develop' and the bottom row of words has 'grow' in it. These two may be used to replace one another in certain sentences without changing the meaning. Therefore they are synonyms and this is the right answer.

So where are the tricks? What will your child get wrong and have to watch out for? Look at the word 'bucket' in the first row. If someone asked you to come up with another word for it, you would probably come up with 'pail'. That's the reason that the question setter will have put in 'pale' in the second set of words. There is a similarity between the spellings of the words 'trough' and 'thought' so the most careless might decide that they look alike so have a connection.

Example 2

Find TWO words, one from each group, that are closest in meaning.

(sort collect find)
(feel type discovered)

This time the answer may not come to you as easily as it did in the first example. Let's work it out carefully - remember, even if you know the answer straight away, if you're teaching your child you will need to see things from their perspective. A good teacher ignores the urge to say, 'It's simple, why can't you see it?' as it helps no-one!

Let's think about the word classes being presented. All could be verbs - that's not terribly helpful. 'Discovered' is a past tense and no others are, so that cannot be part of the answer. It doesn't matter how close in meaning they are, if you are asked for a synonym and one is in a different tense to another or is an adverb when the first is an adjective, they cannot be synonyms. They are simply words with CONNECTED meanings.

As verbs, none of the words seem to be synonymous. Most of them can, when you think about it, also be nouns. With this in mind, can you create a sentence in which one can be replaced with another and retain the meaning? Can you take one of the words at a time and think of alternative words for it? Are any on the line below? Can you think of different meanings for that word? For example, 'find' means 'to discover'. It can also mean 'a discovery', and is therefore both verb and noun.

In case you've not spotted it, 'sort' and 'type' can be interchangeable. 'The wrong sort of person' could become 'the wrong type of person' without really changing the meaning. They are the answers.

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