GED Language Arts (RLA) : Pronoun Usage

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Language Arts (RLA)

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

← Previous 1

Example Question #1 : Pronoun Usage

Adapted from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, III.ii.82-117 (1599)

 

[This is a speech by Mark Antony]

 

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them,

The good is oft interred with their bones;

So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus

Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest-

For Brutus is an honorable man;

So are they all, all honorable men-

Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.

He was my friend, faithful and just to me;

But Brutus says he was ambitious,

And Brutus is an honorable man.

He hath brought many captives home to Rome,

Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.

Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?

When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,

And Brutus is an honorable man.

You all did see that on the Lupercal [a public festival]

I thrice presented him a kingly crown,

Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,

And sure he is an honorable man.

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,

But here I am to speak what I do know.

You all did love him once, not without cause;

What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?

O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,

And I must pause till it come back to me.

To whom does the underlined "He" refer?

Possible Answers:

Mark Antony

Brutus

Caesar

The "man" with which the previous sentence ends.

One of the men in the crowd

Correct answer:

Caesar

Explanation:

The hint for this pronoun can be found two lines below when Mark Antony says, "Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?" He is asking this question in response to the two lines before. In those lines, he shows that Caesar brought captives to Rome, thus putting money in the coffers of the city when those people were ransomed. This does not seem to be ambitious but a help to Rome—so Antony implies against Brutus' claim that he ambitious. (As you read the whole passage, you will see that he is continually trying to show that Caesar was not, in fact, ambitious.) Therefore, the "He" in question is Caesar.

Example Question #2 : Pronoun Usage

Adapted from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, III.ii.82-117 (1599)

 

[This is a speech by Mark Antony]

 

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them,

The good is oft interred with their bones;

So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus

Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest-

For Brutus is an honorable man;

So are they all, all honorable men-

Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.

He was my friend, faithful and just to me;

But Brutus says he was ambitious,

And Brutus is an honorable man.

He hath brought many captives home to Rome,

Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.

Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?

When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,

And Brutus is an honorable man.

You all did see that on the Lupercal [a public festival]

I thrice presented him a kingly crown,

Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,

And sure he is an honorable man.

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,

But here I am to speak what I do know.

You all did love him once, not without cause;

What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?

O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,

And I must pause till it come back to me.

To what or whom does the underlined word "Whose" refer?

Possible Answers:

The other "men" mentioned earlier

home

Rome

captives

Brutus

Correct answer:

captives

Explanation:

The word "whose" is somewhat detached from its antecedent (the word that it to which it is relative). It would seem that it refers to Rome, for Rome is directly before it. However, it really is referring back to the captives. You can tell this because the word "whose" is the possessive form of the relative pronoun "who," and it is modifying "ransom." Only captives would be ransomed—hence, bringing money for the coffers of Rome. Therefore, the answer is "captives."

Example Question #3 : Pronoun Usage

From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, III.ii.13-33 (1599)

[This is a speech by Brutus to a crowd at Caesar’s funeral.]  

 

Romans, countrymen, and lovers! Hear me for my

cause, and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me

for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, that

you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and

awake your senses, that you may the better judge.

If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of

Caesar's, to him I say that Brutus' love to Caesar

was no less than his. If then that friend demand

why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:

Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved

Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and

die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead to live

all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;

as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was

valiant, I honor him; but as he was ambitious, I

slew him. There is tears for his love, joy for his

fortune, honor for his valor, and death for his

ambition. Who is here so base that would be a

bondman? If any, speak, for him have I offended.

Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If

any, speak, for him have I offended. Who is here so

vile that will not love his country? If any, speak,

for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.

To whom does the underlined "him" refer?

Possible Answers:

To Caesar's corpse

The enemies of Caesar's friends

To the assembly as a whole

Any person who might have been Caesar's friend

To himself (Brutus) in a rhetorical manner

Correct answer:

Any person who might have been Caesar's friend

Explanation:

At the beginning of the sentence, Brutus states, "If there be any in this assembly . . ." What he means is, "If there be anyone in this assembly." Now, this is further qualified: "Any one who was [or is] a dear friend of Caesar." Therefore, the "to him" refers to the "anyone" in the conditional portion of the sentence. It is as though he said: "If there be any one in this assembly, any one who was a dear friend of Caesar's, to such a person [i.e. to such a friend] I say that . . ." Therefore, the "him" is anyone who might have been Caesar's friend and is now in the crowd being addressed. Another hint is found in the next sentence: "If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar. . ."

Example Question #4 : Pronoun Usage

From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, III.ii.13-33 (1599)

[This is a speech by Brutus to a crowd at Caesar’s funeral.]  

 

Romans, countrymen, and lovers! Hear me for my

cause, and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me

for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, that

you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and

awake your senses, that you may the better judge.

If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of

Caesar's, to him I say that Brutus' love to Caesar

was no less than his. If then that friend demand

why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:

Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved

Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and

die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead to live

all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;

as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was

valiant, I honor him; but as he was ambitious, I

slew him. There is tears for his love, joy for his

fortune, honor for his valor, and death for his

ambition. Who is here so base that would be a

bondman? If any, speak, for him have I offended.

Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If

any, speak, for him have I offended. Who is here so

vile that will not love his country? If any, speak,

for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.

To whom is Brutus referring when he says that he might have offended someone? (See the underlined, "If any, speak, for him have I offended.")

Possible Answers:

To those who are in the crowd, shouting back at him

To the slave-masters who wish to enslave the people once again, now that Caesar is dead

To those who would prefer Caesar to be alive, even though they would be slaves

To the slaves gathered in the crowd

Those who would desire slavery under Caesar as opposed to freedom under Brutus' rule

Correct answer:

To those who would prefer Caesar to be alive, even though they would be slaves

Explanation:

The preceding sentence states, "Who is here so base that would be a bondman?" This means to ask, "Who is here in the crowd that would be a slave?" The question is perhaps rhetorical, but remember that Brutus has been implying throughout this passage that life under Caesar would have likely been the life of slavery. In the sentence in question, the "any" refers to "anyone who would be a bondman [i.e. a slave]." Only such a person would be offended by Brutus' words—or so he says. The others, he implies, understand that he did what he had to do for the freedom of the Roman people. Note, however, that we cannot infer anything about Brutus going on to rule. The answer "Those who would desire slavery under Caesar as opposed to freedom under Brutus' rule" is a trick answer.

Example Question #5 : Pronoun Usage

1 Today, different methods are adopted to strive off these threats to biological diversity. 2 By now, the occurrence of invasive species is a common place problem. 3 It occurs when a non native species of plant or animal is introduced into a new environment. 4 Invasive species cause problems, such as kudzu, Asian carp, and zebra mussels. 5 Habitats can be destroyed and human economies can be damaged by the invidious effects of species that are inoculated or even charming pets in other ecosystems. 6 For example, rabbits in Australia. 7 They were introduced in the 1780s by British penal colony ships and became widespread after an 1859 outbreak, destroying millions of dollars worth of crops. 8 Pheromone traps can lure in insect pests and genetic modification can cause invasive carp to produce only male offspring, limiting their reproduction. 9 Given our widespread global commerce and travel, however, it may be impossible to foresight all damage done by species that end up somewhere they don’t belong.

How should Sentences 6 and 7 be combined?

Possible Answers:

For example, rabbits in Australia, they were introduced in the 1780s by British penal colony ships and became widespread after an 1859 outbreak, destroying millions of dollars worth of crops.

For example, rabbits in Australia were introduced in the 1780s by British penal colony ships and became widespread after an 1859 outbreak, destroying millions of dollars worth of crops.

For example: rabbits in Australia, were introduced in the 1780s by British penal colony ships and became widespread after an 1859 outbreak, destroying millions of dollars worth of crops.

For example, rabbits in Australia; they were introduced in the 1780s by British penal colony ships and became widespread after an 1859 outbreak, destroying millions of dollars worth of crops.

For example, rabbits in Australia. They were introduced in the 1780s by British penal colony ships and became widespread after an 1859 outbreak, destroying millions of dollars worth of crops. (no change)

Correct answer:

For example, rabbits in Australia were introduced in the 1780s by British penal colony ships and became widespread after an 1859 outbreak, destroying millions of dollars worth of crops.

Explanation:

Sentence 6 is a fragment, so it must be combined with Sentence 7. By simply deleting the period and the pronoun, we can create a standard subject-verb-object sentence.

Example Question #6 : Pronoun Usage

For [Dorian’s] wonderful beauty that had so fascinated Basil Hallward, and many others besides him, seemed never to leave him. Even those who had heard the most evil things against him—and from time to time strange rumours about his mode of life crept through London and became the chatter of the clubs—could not believe anything to his dishonour when they saw him. He had always the look of one who had kept himself unspotted from the world. Men who talked grossly became silent when Dorian Gray entered the room. There was something in the purity of his face that rebuked them. His mere presence seemed to recall to them the memory of the innocence that they had tarnished. They wondered how one so charming and graceful as he was could have escaped the stain of an age that was at once sordid and sensual.

Often, on returning home from one of those mysterious and prolonged absences that gave rise to such strange conjecture among those who were his friends, or thought that they were so, he himself would creep upstairs to the locked room, open the door with the key that never left him now, and stand, with a mirror, in front of the portrait that Basil Hallward had painted of him, looking now at the evil and aging face on the canvas, and now at the fair young face that laughed back at him from the polished glass. The very sharpness of the contrast used to quicken his sense of pleasure. He grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty, more and more interested in the corruption of his own soul. He would examine with minute care, and sometimes with a monstrous and terrible delight, the hideous lines that seared the wrinkling forehead or crawled around the heavy sensual mouth, wondering sometimes which were the more horrible, the signs of sin or the signs of age. He would place his white hands beside the coarse bloated hands of the picture, and smile. He mocked the misshapen body and the failing limbs.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

To whom does the underlined “him” refer?

Possible Answers:

Dorian Gray

The men in the clubs

The underbelly of London

Basil Hallward

Correct answer:

Dorian Gray

Explanation:

“Dorian Gray” is the correct answer; “him” refers to Dorian Gray. Although Hallward is the first actual name (proper noun) in the sentence, “him” does not refer to Hallward. Indeed, this question is a little confusing, rendered more so by what is grammatically referred to as an “unclear antecedent.” Pronouns, like “him,” require an antecedent proper noun—that is, a noun that comes before (“ante”)—in order to make sense. An unclear antecedent occurs when the sentence is unclear as to which noun the pronoun refers. Take, for example, the following sentence: “Greg told Terry that his motorcycle was broken.” It’s entirely unclear whether the “motorcycle” was Greg’s or Terry’s—“his” is unclear in its reference to a noun.

This passage suffers from a similar defect; the reader is unsure as to whom “him” refers. That said, the passage provides plenty of context clues (Gray’s “beauty” which had so captivated Hallward is alluded to slightly later in the paragraph in explicit reference to Gray) leading to the inevitable conclusion that “Dorian Gray” is the correct answer.

Example Question #7 : Pronoun Usage

The worship of the senses has often, and with much justice, been decried, men feeling a natural instinct of terror about passions and sensations that seem stronger than themselves, and that they are conscious of sharing with the less highly organized forms of existence. But it appeared to Dorian Gray that the true nature of the senses had never been understood, and that they had remained savage and animal merely because the world had sought to starve them into submission or to kill them by pain, instead of aiming at making them elements of a new spirituality, of which a fine instinct for beauty was to be the dominant characteristic. As he looked back upon man moving through history, he was haunted by a feeling of loss. So much had been surrendered! and to such little purpose! There had been mad wilful rejections, monstrous forms of self-torture and self-denial, whose origin was fear and whose result was a degradation infinitely more terrible than that fancied degradation from which, in their ignorance, they had sought to escape; Nature, in her wonderful irony, driving out the anchorite to feed with the wild animals of the desert and giving to the hermit the beasts of the field as his companions.

 

Yes: there was to be, as Lord Henry had prophesied, a new Hedonism that was to recreate life and to save it from that harsh uncomely puritanism that is having, in our own day, its curious revival. It was to have its service of the intellect, certainly, yet it was never to accept any theory or system that would involve the sacrifice of any mode of passionate experience. Its aim, indeed, was to be experience itself, and not the fruits of experience, sweet or bitter as they might be. Of the asceticism that deadens the senses, as of the vulgar profligacy that dulls them, it was to know nothing. But it was to teach man to concentrate himself upon the moments of a life that is itself but a moment.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

To whom does the underlined “they” refer?

Possible Answers:

Humanity in general

Dorian Gray

Basil Hallward and Lord Henry

The Catholic Church

Correct answer:

Humanity in general

Explanation:

“Humanity in general” is the correct answer. Wilde, the author of Dorian Gray, likely meant intellectuals and more sophisticated people, but “humanity in general” is perfectly acceptable. At any rate, the passage should have sent you in the right direction as it mentions, several times, that “men” were the ones frightened “about passions and sensations that seem stronger than themselves” and who has “surrendered” much. Thus, “humanity” is the correct answer.

Example Question #8 : Pronoun Usage

It was rumoured of him once that he [Dorian Gray] was about to join the Roman Catholic communion, and certainly the Roman ritual had always a great attraction for him. The daily sacrifice, more awful really than all the sacrifices of the antique world, stirred him as much by its superb rejection of the evidence of the senses as by the primitive simplicity of its elements and the eternal pathos of the human tragedy that it sought to symbolize. He loved to kneel down on the cold marble pavement and watch the priest, in his stiff flowered dalmatic, slowly and with white hands moving aside the veil of the tabernacle, or raising aloft the jewelled, lantern-shaped monstrance with that pallid wafer that at times, one would fain think, is indeed the "panis caelestis," the bread of angels, or, robed in the garments of the Passion of Christ, breaking the Host into the chalice and smiting his breast for his sins. The fuming censers that the grave boys, in their lace and scarlet, tossed into the air like great gilt flowers had their subtle fascination for him. As he passed out, he used to look with wonder at the black confessionals and long to sit in the dim shadow of one of them and listen to men and women whispering through the worn grating the true story of their lives.

 

But he never fell into the error of arresting his intellectual development by any formal acceptance of creed or system, or of mistaking, for a house in which to live, an inn that is but suitable for the sojourn of a night, or for a few hours of a night in which there are no stars and the moon is in travail. Mysticism, with its marvellous power of making common things strange to us, and the subtle antinomianism that always seems to accompany it, moved him for a season; and for a season he inclined to the materialistic doctrines of the Darwinismus movement in Germany, and found a curious pleasure in tracing the thoughts and passions of men to some pearly cell in the brain, or some white nerve in the body, delighting in the conception of the absolute dependence of the spirit on certain physical conditions, morbid or healthy, normal or diseased. Yet, as has been said of him before, no theory of life seemed to him to be of any importance compared with life itself. He felt keenly conscious of how barren all intellectual speculation is when separated from action and experiment. He knew that the senses, no less than the soul, have their spiritual mysteries to reveal.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

To whom does the underlined “us” refer?

Possible Answers:

Dorian’s suitors

 Humanity, generally

The gentlemen of the London clubs

Lord Henry and Dorian together

Correct answer:

 Humanity, generally

Explanation:

“Humanity, generally” is the correct answer. Wilde essentially “breaks the fourth wall” of literature here, by using “us”—referencing the real world (that is, “actual” humanity) within his novel. At any rate, there are no context clues to support any other answer, thus “humanity” is the correct answer.

Example Question #9 : Pronoun Usage

It was a lovely night, so warm that he threw his coat over his arm and did not even put his silk scarf round his throat. As he strolled home, smoking his cigarette, two young men in evening dress passed him. He heard one of them whisper to the other, "That is Dorian Gray." He remembered how pleased he used to be when he was pointed out, or stared at, or talked about. He was tired of hearing his own name now. Half the charm of the little village where he had been so often lately was that no one knew who he was. He had often told the girl whom he had lured to love him that he was poor, and she had believed him. He had told her once that he was wicked, and she had laughed at him and answered that wicked people were always very old and very ugly. What a laugh she had!—just like a thrush singing. And how pretty she had been in her cotton dresses and her large hats! She [Hetty] knew nothing, but she had everything that he had lost.

 

When he reached home, he found his servant waiting up for him. He sent him to bed, and threw himself down on the sofa in the library, and began to think over some of the things that Lord Henry had said to him.

 

Was it really true that one could never change? He felt a wild longing for the unstained purity of his boyhood—his rose-white boyhood, as Lord Henry had once called it. He knew that he had tarnished himself, filled his mind with corruption and given horror to his fancy; that he had been an evil influence to others, and had experienced a terrible joy in being so; and that of the lives that had crossed his own, it had been the fairest and the most full of promise that he had brought to shame. But was it all irretrievable? Was there no hope for him?

 

Ah! in what a monstrous moment of pride and passion he had prayed that the portrait should bear the burden of his days, and he keep the unsullied splendour of eternal youth! All his failure had been due to that. Better for him that each sin of his life had brought its sure swift penalty along with it. There was purification in punishment. Not "Forgive us our sins" but "Smite us for our iniquities" should be the prayer of man to a most just God.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

To whom does “him” refer?

Possible Answers:

Lord Henry

Dorian

Hetty

The servant

Correct answer:

The servant

Explanation:

“The servant” is the correct answer. This was a very easy question. The passage says that “he sent him to bed” which, standing alone, is somewhat confusing due to the presence of an unclear antecedent. An antecedent is the word (noun) to which the pronoun refers. For example, “Bobby ate three cheeseburgers. Afterward, he ate ice cream for dessert.” Clearly, in this sentence the “he” refers to “Bobby”—it is NOT an unclear antecedent. If, however, the sentence read “Bobby and Jimmy ate three cheeseburgers. Afterword, he ate ice cream for dessert,” the reader is left wondering to which person (Bobby or Jimmy) the “he” refers. This is an unclear antecedent. In the passage provided above, however, the only two possibilities are: Dorian, and his servant. The passage would make no sense whatsoever if it read: “Dorian sent Dorian to bed” (that is, if the “him” refers to Dorian). Instead, the sentence only makes sense if it reads: “Dorian sent his servant to bed.”

Example Question #10 : Pronoun Usage

"Alas, sir, in the most unexpected manner. After a long talk with the harbor-master, Captain Leclere left Naples greatly disturbed in mind. In twenty-four hours he was attacked by a fever, and died three days afterwards. We performed the usual burial service, and he is at his rest, sewn up in his hammock with a thirty-six pound shot at his head and his heels, off El Giglio island. We bring to his widow his sword and cross of honor. It was worth while, truly," added the young man with a melancholy smile, "to make war against the English for ten years, and to die in his bed at last, like everybody else."

"Why, you see, Edmond," replied the owner, who appeared more comforted at every moment, "we are all mortal, and the old must make way for the young. If not, why, there would be no promotion; and since you assure me that the cargo—"

"Is all safe and sound, M. Morrel, take my word for it; and I advise you not to take 25,000 francs for the profits of the voyage."

Then, as they were just passing the Round Tower, the young man shouted: "Stand by there to lower the topsails and jib; brail up the spanker!"

The order was executed as promptly as it would have been on board a man-of-war.

"Let go—and clue up!" At this last command all the sails were lowered, and the vessel moved almost imperceptibly onwards.

"Now, if you will come on board, M. Morrel," said Dantes, observing the owner's impatience, "here is your supercargo, M. Danglars, coming out of his cabin, who will furnish you with every particular. As for me, I must look after the anchoring, and dress the ship in mourning."

The owner did not wait for a second invitation. He seized a rope which Dantes flung to him, and with an activity that would have done credit to a sailor, climbed up the side of the ship, while the young man, going to his task, left the conversation to Danglars, who now came towards the owner. He was a man of twenty-five or twenty-six years of age, of unprepossessing countenance, obsequious to his superiors, insolent to his subordinates; and this, in addition to his position as responsible agent on board, which is always obnoxious to the sailors, made him as much disliked by the crew as Edmond Dantes was beloved by them.

Passage adapted from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

To whom does “he” refer?

Possible Answers:

Edmond Dantes

The ship

M. Danglars

Captain Leclere

Correct answer:

Captain Leclere

Explanation:

“Captain Leclere” is the correct answer. This is a relatively simple question that tested your understanding of pronouns and antecedents. “He” must refer to “Captain Leclere” in this sentence. Although it would make grammatical sense if the “he” referred to “the harbor master” that particular arrangement would not comport with the passage; the passage is not referring to the tragedy of a harbor-master dying, but the tragedy of losing a Captain. Thus, “Captain Leclere” must be the correct answer.

← Previous 1
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: