GRE Verbal : Understanding the Meaning of Phrases, Sentences, and Paragraphs in Multiple-Answer Questions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Reading Comprehension

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 brutes who devour their young.

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

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 sister colonies.

Correct answer:

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


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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