Sentence Completion (Two Blanks)



    Sentence completion exercises are relatively easy if you know how to do them. They are not a test of your vocabulary, but of your logical skills. By reasoning out, and placing a word in context you can either eliminate it or include it in your choice. Of course, you do need to know the denotation and the connotation of the word in order to place the word in the given context to see if it fits into the context.

    For example, the sentences that are usually given to be filled in contain two parts which are interdependent in one of three ways. The sentences may be additive in effect, they may be contrasting, or they may be related as one being inferred from the other. It is only such sentences that are amenable to sentence completion exercises. Remember that the person who is preparing the question has to provide enough clues to narrow down the possibilities to only one of four or five options. His/her task is more difficult than yours.  These are the steps in solving fillers.

Step 1:  Demarcate the parts of the sentence into two parts which are interdependent in the aforesaid manner.
Step 2: Decide in what relationship each stands to the other.
Step 3: Fill in the blanks with your own words, selecting from your vocabulary, the best possible that are in concord with the sense of each part of the sentence.
Step 4: Having thus given a ‘name’ to each blank, look at each option and eliminate the pairs of words that do not fit. You may have to take into account the denotation, connotation and the collocation of the words. Collocation is especially tricky because even though the meaning matches, the other words with which the word is associated are also to be taken into account.
Step 5:  Finally, after deciding on the correct option, re-read the sentence with these words in place to see if the sentence is natural and logical.

Solved Examples:

1) About 5,000 years ago in __________________ Assyria, scribes recorded on clay tablets the __________________ of magical magnifying stones that made objects seem larger.
a) old, advent            b) ancient, existence        c) prehistoric, presence       
d) olden, invention

The correct option is b. In (a) advent may fit but the word old is used for an individual, not a country.
In (c), prehistoric does not fit because if is used to describe the time before the advent of humans. Olden applies to days, not to a country, as in ‘In olden days.

 2) These stones were actually broken shards of meteorites whose centers had _____________________into glass during the intense heat of entry into Earth’s atmosphere, melting it in such a way that they formed a _______________________ lens.
a) fused, primitive    b) melted, prime    c) joined, primeval    d) formed, basic

The correct option is (a). Fused connotes the formation of a single mass on melting. Primitive connotes the earlier stages in development. Melted is incomplete, as it does not include the idea of forming a whole. Joined also is inadequate. Joined to form is better. Primeval connotes earlier in time, aevon meaning time or age. Formed does not convey the idea of melting and the use of into is odd here. Basic is not as good as primitive.

3) Although the best of scientific temper and ____________________in religion are apparently irreconcilable, we often find scientists having ____________________ to God and prayer when their powers are exceeded.
a) belief, faith        b) faith, access        c) fixity, alternative    d) dogma, recourse

The correct option is (d). In option a belief fits but faith in God is expected, not faith to. Faith in option b fits but access to God means being allowed to meet God. Fixity means a fixed belief and is incompatible with scientific temper; ‘alternative to’ does not agree with the sense of the sentence. Dogma and recourse fit perfectly, both idiomatically and in terms of meaning.

4) Having been blessed with a fine _____________________ mind and a(n) ________________ faith in his monarch, the Englishman set out to conquer the world.
a) reasoning, firm    b) ratifying, unwavering        c) reasonable, incredible       
d) rational, unshakeable
The correct option is d. Reasoning implies the process of reasoning. Rational is better. Ratifying denotes validation. Reasonable means amenable to reason.

5) A native speaker of a language cannot be expected to know the ___________________ of his language any more than a _______________ suffering from fever can be expected to know everything about fever.
a) nuances, patient     b) fineness, case    c) subtleties, person    d) nuisance, sufferer
The correct answer is a. Nuances means the fine points in a subject etc. Patient as the person suffering from a disease is the correct word to be used. Fineness denotes the subtle quality of something, not fine points. Option c is a good option but not as good as a because patient is more appropriate than person. Option d is the nonsense option, as nuisance denotes a source of annoyance.

6) Although  the Assyrians did not know  it,  they were practising  the_______________ known optical microscopy,  a  technology  that  has  __________________  revolutionized  almost  every aspect of science.
a) first, categorically    b) primary, clearly    c) earliest, unequivocally    d) best, dubiously
The correct option is c. First indicates rank, earliest indicates first in time. Categorically is used only to describe statements. Primary is used for something from which something else derives, while dubiously means questionably.

7) If it lacks the sharp wit and the high spirits of Pride and Prejudice, and the wide scope of Mansfield Park, it ________________ more than they do of the interest which the _____________ eye may find in ordinary people.
a) obfuscates, seeing    b) confounds, shrewd    c) reveals, discerning    d) shows, sharp
The correct option is c. Obfuscates denotes to confuse, discerning is better than seeing. Confounds means again to confuse. Shows in d is good enough, but sharp denotes the faculty of the physical eye whereas in the sentence, it is the mind’s eye that is referred to.

8) Linguist  Eric  Lenneberg  states  that  the  _______________  period  of  language  acquisition  ends around  the age of 12 years. He claims  that  if no  language  is  learned before  then,  it can never be  learned  in a normal and  fully  ________________ sense. This is known as the "Critical Period Hypothesis".
a) critical, crucial    b) vital, functioning    c) crucial, functional    d) important, working
The correct option is c. Critical denotes of great importance and also signifies a crisis. Crucial, meaning of great importance, does not fit into the second blank. Functioning is an adjective which if used in the second blank would mean that the sense is functioning (working). The same goes for working.

9) Look  around,  and  you  could  be  forgiven  for  believing  that  you  can  see  a  _________________  and detailed picture of your surroundings. Indeed, you may even think that your eyes never ___________________ you.
a) vivid, deceive    b) prominent, perceive        c) livid, fail    d) lurid, mislead
The correct answer is a. Vivid means lifelike and deceive fits into the context of deception even when everything appears lifelike. Option b, prominent is not suitable for describing a picture, and perceive is used for a person. Livid is used to describe something of a dark blue colour, although fail can fit in.
Lurid means grotesquely unpleasant and does not fit.

10) When you talk to two people who have just ____________________, their breakup stories often sound like ____________________  of  two  completely  different  relationships. Each has been living in a different relationship from the other person’s.
a) broken up, portrayals        b) split up, depictions    c) joined up, catalogues        d) broken out, descriptions
The correct option is b. Broken up is used to describe a relationship, not persons. Joined up is inappropriate idiomatically and does not provide the contrast inherent in the sentence. Catalogue is a list or documented details of items. Break out is used to describe diseases, or captives. 

11) Researchers have found out that the ___________________ for remembering human faces enables mechanics to recognize cars, thus suggesting that our faculties can be made to subserve new functions according to the ___________________ of the situation.
a) skill, needs    b) talent, urgency    c) sense, necessity    d) faculty, demands
The correct answer is d. Skill connotes ability to do something whereas faculty connotes innate ability of body or mind. Talent is possessed by a few persons only whereas here a general ability is hinted at. Sense is a specific ability to perceive something, not an ability of the mind. Of the four options for the second blank, demands fits in best.

12) While  some  may  suggest  that  Pratchett  _________________  part  of  his  readership  by drawing heavily from literary sources, others  would  argue  that  the  range  of  his  ______________________  gives  all readers  recognizable  reference  points.
a) includes, illusions    b) precludes, exclusions        c) excludes, allusions    d) sustains, allegories
The correct option is c. The implied contrast between heavy drawing from literary sources and accessibility to readers in general is best sustained by precludes and excludes. Illusions, meaning non-existent objects perceived, and allegories, meaning a story having another meaning, are unsuitable to the second blank.

13) As  far  as  the history  of  crime  fiction  is  concerned,  it  is  a(n)  ___________________  fact  that many authors have been  __________________  to  this very day  to publish  their  crime novels under  their real names -- as if they were ashamed of doing something "improper".
a) amazing, willing    b) well-known, inspired        (c) astonishing, reluctant    d) irritating, hesitant
The correct option is c. Options a and b do not convey the contrast inherent in the sentence between modern day tendencies and crime fiction writing as far as openness is concerned. Hesitant in d is not as good as reluctant, since hesitancy is not manifest in the adoption of pen-names.

14) Miss Brooke had that ________________ of beauty which seems to be thrown into ________________ by poor dress.
a) kind, relief    b) type, contrast        c) kind, gear    d) nature, profile
The correct option is a. Relief alone conveys the idea of ‘made prominent by’. None of the other options is as good.

15) Nativist  linguistic  theories  hold  that  children  learn  through  their ________________  ability  to  organize  the  laws  of  language,  but  cannot  fully  _____________________  this  talent without  the  presence  of  other  humans.
a) innate, inculcate    b) intrinsic, proceed    c) natural, utilize    d) uncanny, internalize
The correct option is c. Only utilize conveys the sense of using something inborn. Proceed is a blunder option, while inculcate and internalize are used only for something that is not inborn.

Written By: AP Raju