Common Core: 11th Grade English Language Arts : Command of grammar and usage: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.11-12.1

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 11th Grade English Language Arts

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Common Core: 11th Grade English Language Arts

Adapted from the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America by Thomas Jefferson (1776)

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

What is the meaning of the bolded and underlined word “dissolve” in the context of the passage?

Possible Answers:

To put into solution

To dissipate

To end

To fix

Correct answer:

To end


In general, "dissolve" is used to describe the process of putting a solid into solution, as when we dissolve sugar in water (or delicious iced tea!). This process "breaks up" the molecules (in different ways, not always completely traumatically). From this usage, we also can utilize the term to describe any process that brings something to an end. A business can be "dissolved" when its parts are broken up, and the relationship of the colonies to England can be dissolved. This is the sense it which the word is used in the passage. The "political bands" described in this context need to be severed, not allowed to disintegrate in a liquid solution.

Example Question #1 : Complex Or Contested Usage: Ccss.Ela Literacy.L.11 12.1.B

Passage adapted from Othello by William Shakespeare (1604)

 IAGO: Three great ones of the city,                                                  

In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,

Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man,

I know my price, I am worth no worse a place:

But he; as loving his own pride and purposes,                   5

Evades them, with a bombast circumstance

Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war;

And, in conclusion,

Nonsuits my mediators; for, 'Certes,' says he,

'I have already chose my officer.'                                     10

And what was he?

Forsooth, a great arithmetician,

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,

A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife;

That never set a squadron in the field,                            15

Nor the division of a battle knows

More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,

Wherein the toga’d consuls can propose

As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,

Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:            20

And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof

At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds

Christian and heathen, must be be-lee'd and calm'd

By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster,

He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,                        25

And I—God bless the mark!—his Moorship's ancient.

In line 9, the phrase “my mediators” refers to which of the underlined and bolded phrases?

Possible Answers:

"a spinster" (line 17)

"Three great ones of the city" (line 1)

“One Michael Cassio” (line 13)

"his Moorship" (line 26)

Correct answer:

"Three great ones of the city" (line 1)


“My mediators” refers to the interlocutors who intervened unsuccessfully on the speaker’s (Iago’s) behalf to help him obtain the position of Lieutenant. These were the "three great ones of the city" who personally advocated on Iago's behalf (lines 1-2). “One Michael Cassio” refers to the officer who was made Lieutenant instead of the Iago. Iago is upset that he has not been chosen; he uses the derogatory title “His Moorship” to refer to the general who has granted the position of Lieutenant to Cassio instead of the speaker. The "spinster" he references is only mentioned as a metaphor for Cassio's lack of experience, it does not reference an actual person. 

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