PSAT Critical Reading : Two Verbs in Two-Blank Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

In order to __________ the techniques in the professional artist's painting, she needed to __________ the painting's details.

Possible Answers:

obliterate . . . discern

apprehend . . . overlook

emulate . . . scrutinize

supplant . . . dismiss

efface . . . fathom

Correct answer:

emulate . . . scrutinize

Explanation:

The key to this sentence is the fact that the original painting is done by a professional artist; the painting is presumably well done. Thus, if you wanted to mimic or emulate the painting, you would need to look at it closely or scrutinize it.

Example Question #2 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Despite having __________ a few treasures in his day, the thief could not __________ his nephew's decision to follow in his footsteps and pursue the same profession; he just didn't want to see his nephew get into any trouble with the law.

Possible Answers:

opined . . . market

returned . . . approve of

frozen . . . narrow

purloined . . . determine

finagled . . . condone

Correct answer:

finagled . . . condone

Explanation:

For the first blank, we need to pick out a word that means something like "steal," because we know that the sentence concerns a "thief" and thieves are likely to steal treasures. Either "finagled" ("obtained something by devious or dishonest means") or "purloined" ("stole something") could be potentially correct. For the second blank, we know that the thief does not approve of his nephew's decision to become a thief, because "he just didn't want to see his nephew get into any trouble with the law." So, we need to pick out a verb that means something like "support," because we know that the thief could not support his nephew's decision. Either "condone" ("accept and allow behavior that is considered morally wrong or offensive to continue") or "approve of" could be potentially correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "finagled" and "condone" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "finagled . . . condone."

Example Question #3 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Pick the best pair of words to complete the sentence.

He __________ cupcake upon cupcake into the box, __________ a mess of icing.

Possible Answers:

heaps . . . generating

overturns . . . internalizing

stacked . . . creates

places . . . tidying

throws . . . scraping

Correct answer:

heaps . . . generating

Explanation:

The verbs in this sentence need to make sense in each other's context—so, although "to stack" and "to create" have the proper meaning, they are not grammatically sound options. Out of the rest of the possible answers, "heaps . . . generating" makes the most sense, since it means to put the cupcakes in a pile and then create a mess.

Example Question #4 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Answer the following sample question. Select the word or pair of words that most correctly completes the sentence.

 

The lawyer advised Jane to __________ the terms of the rental contract, but not to __________ her duties as a landlord.

Possible Answers:

wane; incite

usurp; procrastinate

nullify; eschew

glean; pander

harbinger; oscillate

Correct answer:

nullify; eschew

Explanation:

"Nullify" means to negate or make invalid. "Eschew" means to avoid or dodge a responsibility or duty. "Usurp" means to take over or seize. "Procrastinate" means to put off doing something. "Wane" means to decline or dwindle. "Incite" means to provoke or agitate. "Harbinger" means to herald or give a prior indication. "Oscillate" means to move in a side-to-side motion. "Glean" means to gather or collect in a gradual manner. "Pander" means to provide what someone wants even though it may not be preferable.

Example Question #5 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

After his extended period of bed rest in the hospital, Gregor realized that his muscles had _________ when it was surprisingly difficult for him to walk without quickly __________ his energy.

Possible Answers:

rescinded . . . exhausting

provoked . . . kindling

capitulated. . . gleaning

atrophied . . . depleting

deteriorated. . . bolstering

Correct answer:

atrophied . . . depleting

Explanation:

Since we can infer that Gregor's muscles became weaker during his stay in the hospital, we need to pick out a verb for the first blank that means something like "became weaker." Either "atrophied" (significantly weakened due to lack of use) or "deteriorated" (worsened) could be correct. For the second blank, we know that Gregor was probably losing energy quickly as he walked if he had weak muscles, so we need to pick out a verb that means losing. Either "depleting" (using up the available amount of) or "exhausting" (extremely tiring) could work. Of the four words we've identified as possibly correct answers, only two line up in a single answer choice: "atrophied" and "depleting." So, "atrophied . . . depleting" is the correct answer.

Example Question #6 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

The bank robbers were __________ by the man who drove the getaway car, and since the heist would not have succeeded if they had not had his assistance, they made him a __________ of some of the loot.

Possible Answers:

assisted . . . relinquisher

elevated . . . forebear

exonerated . . . dilettante

divulged . . . stoic

abetted . . . recipient

Correct answer:

abetted . . . recipient

Explanation:

Since we know that "the heist would have not succeeded" without the driver's help, we know that for the first blank, we're looking for a verb that means helped. Two answer choices look like they could work: "abetted" (helped someone commit a crime) and "assisted" (helped). Now, we have to choose between "recipient" and "relinquisher" for the second blank. We can infer that the driver was given some of the loot, so we're looking for a noun that means someone who gets a portion of something. Since "recipient" means someone who receives something and "relinquisher" means someone who gives something else up, the correct answer is "recipient," so the answer is "abetted . . . recipient."

Example Question #7 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Sam found it difficult to __________ to his mother's rule of "no dessert before dinner" when the smell of fresh-baked brownies __________ out of the kitchen.

Possible Answers:

ignore . . . rolled

break . . . drifted

obey . . . flew

pretend . . . blew

adhere . . .wafted

Correct answer:

adhere . . .wafted

Explanation:

For the first blank, we know that smelling brownies might encourage one to break a rule that states "no dessert before dinner," so Sam must have found it difficult to listen to that rule. So, we need to pick out an answer choice that means something like "listen." Either "adhere" ("stick fast to a surface or substance," "believe in and follow the practices of," or "represent truthfully and in detail") or "obey" ("behave in accordance with") could be correct. For the second blank, we need to pick a verb that can describe the movement of a scent in the air; either "wafted" ("passed or caused to pass easily or gently through or as if through the air") or "drifted" ("be carried slowly by a current of air or water") could be correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "adhere" and "wafted" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "adhere . . . wafted."

Example Question #8 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

__________ the smell of fresh-baked cookies wafting through the office, Mary decided to __________ and eat a few despite the fact that she was on a diet.

Possible Answers:

resisting . . . indulge

considering . . . part

succumbing to . . . splurge

yielding to . . . impede

wavering . . . cook

Correct answer:

succumbing to . . . splurge

Explanation:

For the first blank, we need to pick out a word that means something like "giving way to," because we know that "Mary decided to . . . eat a few [cookies] despite the fact that she was on a diet." Either "succumbing to" ("failing to resist (pressure, temptation, or some other negative force)") or "yielding to" ("giving way to arguments, demands, or pressure") could be potentially correct. For the second blank, we need to pick out a word that means something like "enjoy oneself," and either "splurge" ("to indulge oneself extravagantly") or "indulge" ("allow oneself to enjoy the pleasure of") could be potentially correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "succumbing to" and "splurge" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "succumbing to . . . splurge."

Example Question #9 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Sam ___________ most of his energy when he dashed down the sidewalk and ___________ his friend John so that John would not arrive home before his friends were finished setting up his surprise birthday party.

Possible Answers:

exerted . . . intercepted

used up . . . ignored

forgot about . . . apologized to

deleted . . . followed

regained . . . stopped

Correct answer:

exerted . . . intercepted

Explanation:

For the first blank, we need to pick out a word that means something like "used," because we know that Sam must have used energy "when he dashed down the sidewalk." Either "exerted" ("put oneself into action or to tiring effort") or "used up" could be correct. For the second blank, we need to pick out a word that means something like "interrupt," because we know that Sam's goal was to prevent John from arriving home before his surprise party was set up. Either "stopped" or "intercepted" ("stopped, seized, or interrupted in progress or course or before arrival") could be correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "exerted" and "intercepted" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "exerted . . . intercepted."

Example Question #10 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Which pair of words best completes the sentence?

Although he __________ running, the brisk air and bright sunshine __________ him to get outside and exercise.

Possible Answers:

despised . . . motivated

loved . . . got 

learned . . . pushed

is hating . . . cultivates

avoided . . . prevented

Correct answer:

despised . . . motivated

Explanation:

Although "to hate" and "to cultivate" are both appropriate words, however the verb tense is not proper grammar for the context of the sentence. The other options do not make sense with the sentence structure, so the correct answer, which give the sentence the correct meaning, is "despised . . . motivated," since "to despise" means to hate or strongly dislike, while "to motivate" means to encourage or push to do something. 

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