GRE Verbal : Meaning and Structure in Multiple-Answer Questions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #61 : Gre Verbal Reasoning

Passage adapted from "A Question of Politeness," (1912) by Agnes Repplier.

A great deal has been said and written during the past few years on the subject of American manners, and the consensus of opinion is, on the whole, unfavourable. We have been told, more in sorrow than in anger, that we are not a polite people; and our critics have cast about them for causes which may be held responsible for such a universal and lamentable result. Mr. Thomas Nelson Page, for example, is by way of thinking that the fault lies in the sudden expansion of wealth, in the intrusion into the social world of people who fail to understand its requirements, and in the universal "spoiling" of American children. He contrasts the South of his childhood, that wonderful "South before the war," which looms vaguely, but very grandly, through a half-century's haze, with the New York of to-day, which, alas! has nothing to soften its outlines. A more censorious critic in the "Atlantic Monthly" has also stated explicitly that for true consideration and courtliness we must hark back to certain old gentlewomen of ante-bellum days. "None of us born since the Civil War approach them in respect to some fine, nameless quality that gives them charm and atmosphere." It would seem, then, that the war, with its great emotions and its sustained heroism, imbued us with national life at the expense of our national manners.

The primary purpose of this passage is to __________.

Possible Answers:

criticize American manners after the Civil War

explain Thomas Nelson Page's beliefs about the southern united states prior to the Civil War

discuss American decorum, and to provide arguments that attempt to explain it

research the effect of financial growth on American values

debunk the belief that American manners were better prior to the Civil War

Correct answer:

discuss American decorum, and to provide arguments that attempt to explain it

Explanation:

The author herself, while open to the criticisms of others toward American manners, does not attempt to criticize them in his passage. Furthermore, while the author mentions Page, she only devotes two lines to him in order to share his opinion, before moving on to another argument. The expansion of wealth is mentioned but not researched, and the author does not focus on disproving the critics she cites, rather sharing them as other voices that attempt to explain the state of American voices.

Example Question #2 : Meaning And Structure In Multiple Answer Questions

Passage adapted from Thomas Paine's Common Sense (1776).

It hath lately been asserted in parliament, that the colonies have no relation to each other but through the parent country, i. e. that Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, and so on for the rest, are sister colonies by the way of England; this is certainly a very round-about way of proving relationship, but it is the nearest and only true way of proving enemyship, if I may so call it. France and Spain never were, nor perhaps ever will be our enemies as Americans, but as our being the subjects of Great-Britain.

But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families; wherefore the assertion, if true, turns to her reproach; but it happens not to be true, or only partly so, and the phrase parent or mother country hath been jesuitically adopted by the king and his parasites, with a low papistical design of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds. Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.

What does the word "credulous" mean in this context?

Possible Answers:

Unnoticed

Uncritical 

Selfish 

Rampant

Useful

Correct answer:

Uncritical 

Explanation:

Paine is making the point that their uncritical loyalty to the King is weakness. "Credulous" means uncritical or trusting, so the meaning in this passage is conventional.

"Selfish" means overly concerned with one's own interests. "Rampant" means unceasingly proliferating (usually of a negative thing). "Unnoticed" means unseen or not perceived. "Useful" means able to be helpfully or effectively used.

Example Question #62 : Gre Verbal Reasoning

Passage adapted from Homer's Odysseus, the Hero of Ithaca trans. Samuel Butler (1900).

"And what, Telemachus, has led you to take this long sea voyage to Lacedaemon? Are you on public or private business? Tell me all about it."

"I have come, sir replied Telemachus, "to see if you can tell me anything about my father. I am being eaten out of house and home; my fair estate is being wasted, and my house is full of miscreants who keep killing great numbers of my sheep and oxen, on the pretence of paying their addresses to my mother. Therefore, I am suppliant at your knees if haply you may tell me about my father's melancholy end, whether you saw it with your own eyes, or heard it from some other traveller; for he was a man born to trouble. Do not soften things out of any pity for myself, but tell me in all plainness exactly what you saw. If my brave father Ulysses ever did you loyal service either by word or deed, when you Achaeans were harassed by the Trojans, bear it in mind now as in my favour and tell me truly all."

Menelaus on hearing this was very much shocked. "So," he exclaimed, "these cowards would usurp a brave man's bed? A hind might as well lay her new born young in the lair of a lion, and then go off to feed in the forest or in some grassy dell: the lion when he comes back to his lair will make short work with the pair of them- and so will Ulysses with these suitors. By father Jove, Minerva, and Apollo, if Ulysses is still the man that he was when he wrestled with Philomeleides in Lesbos, and threw him so heavily that all the Achaeans cheered him- if he is still such and were to come near these suitors, they would have a short shrift and a sorry wedding. 

What does "paying their addresses" mean in this context?

Possible Answers:

Trying to get word to Ulysses about the end of the war

Wooing Telemachus's mother in hopes of marrying her

Showing respect to Telemachus and his mother

Begging to hear about the Trojan War from Menelaus

Buying property from Telemachus

Correct answer:

Wooing Telemachus's mother in hopes of marrying her

Explanation:

We know from the context that Telemachus is trying to get rid of these men who are surrounding his mother, trying to get her attention. We learn from Menelaus that any of the men who succeed in marrying her will face Ulysses's vengeance. These clues help us decode "paying their addresses."

Example Question #63 : Gre Verbal Reasoning

Passage adapted from Thomas Paine's Common Sense (1776).

It hath lately been asserted in parliament, that the colonies have no relation to each other but through the parent country, i. e. that Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, and so on for the rest, are sister colonies by the way of England; this is certainly a very round-about way of proving relationship, but it is the nearest and only true way of proving enemyship, if I may so call it. France and Spain never were, nor perhaps ever will be our enemies as Americans, but as our being the subjects of Great-Britain.

But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families; wherefore the assertion, if true, turns to her reproach; but it happens not to be true, or only partly so, and the phrase parent or mother country hath been jesuitically adopted by the king and his parasites, with a low papistical design of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds. Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.

What does the author believe about Americians' relationship to France and Spain?

Possible Answers:

That they are enemies that should be fought out of loyalty to the King.

That they are sister colonies.

That there is no reason call them enemies, since they have no direct feud with them.

That they have fled from British rule because they are weak minded.

That they are brutes who devour their young.

Correct answer:

That there is no reason call them enemies, since they have no direct feud with them.

Explanation:

The author is saying that just because Great Britain had declared France and Spain enemies, that doesn't make them enemies of the American Colonies. Even if Britain is the "parent" country that does not mean the "children" have to follow in its footsteps.

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