Common Core: 12th Grade English Language Arts : Context clues to determine word or phrase meaning: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.11-12.4.A

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 12th Grade English Language Arts

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All Common Core: 12th Grade English Language Arts Resources

2 Diagnostic Tests 36 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Context Clues To Determine Word Or Phrase Meaning: Ccss.Ela Literacy.L.11 12.4.A

Passage adapted from Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Spring" (1921).

To what purpose, April, do you return again?

Beauty is not enough.

You can no longer quiet me with the redness 

Of leaves opening stickily.

I know what I know.  5

The sun is hot on my neck as I observe

The spikes of the crocus.

The smell of the earth is good.

It is apparent that there is no death.

But what does that signify?  10

Not only under the ground are the brains of men

Eaten by maggots.

Life in itself

Is nothing,

An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.  15

It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, 

April

Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

The bolded and underlined word "you" in line 3 refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

The speaker's ex-lover, a woman named April

The calendar month of April

The reader

A person named April

Correct answer:

The calendar month of April

Explanation:

Here, you must ascertain the referent of a specific pronoun. Now, you may be used to seeing "you" used in poetry as a form of direct address, but that is not the case here. For this question, it was vital that you considered the entire context of the poem, and did not become fixated on the specified use of the term. In the first line of the poem the syntax directly establishes "April" as the subject being addressed with "you." The relation of April to you, in this case, was direct and required by the logic and grammar of the sentence in which it first appears. Once established, this object of address will remain consistent throughout the poem, including two line later

Now, we must figure out who or what "April" is being addressed. April could be a name, a month, or even the name of an organization. One can safely infer that the April that is being addressed is the month of April and not a person because of the title of the poem, "Spring," and the description that follows of April returning each year.

All Common Core: 12th Grade English Language Arts Resources

2 Diagnostic Tests 36 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
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