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Parts of Speech Working Backwards

“Working Backwards”
Here is a type of question frequently seen on skills-based and standardized tests:
“Which part of speech would be used to correctly complete this sentence?:”
I babysat ________ children after school yesterday.
How are you supposed to tell? The word isn’t there!
Each part of speech holds a distinct job in the sentence (to show action, to show
relationship, etc.) Even if a word is eliminated, the function needed remains the same.
I babysat three children yesterday.
I babysat neighborhood children yesterday.
I babysat energetic children yesterday.
The meaning of the sentence changes depending on which word is used, but each
word that completes the sentence is there to DESCRIBE the noun “children.”
Therefore, the word missing from the sentence must be an adjective since the job of
an adjective is to describe a noun.
1) Insert a word that fits the meaning AND flow of the sentence. Then you can
decide the part of speech of that word.
This strategy works particularly well for parts of speech such as conjunctions and
prepositions because there are a limited number of words to choose from. You will
be able to predict the word based on the sentence’s meaning:
Example: Either Emily _____ Rachel will get the last piece of cake.
Example: All of the tools are ______ the shed.
2) Remember the questions the parts of speech answer:
Noun/Pronoun: Who? Whom? What?
Adjective: Which one? What kind? How many? How much? Whose?
Adverb: Where? When? How? How often? To what extent?
Example: The trophies were awarded to ______ and me.
Example: He _______ paced the waiting room floor.
3) If all else fails, use process of elimination to cross out the obviously
incorrect answers.
1. How did Houdini escape from jails, straightjackets, ______strange containers?
a) noun
c) preposition
b) conjunction
d) adverb
2. The tree was covered with ______.
a) verb
c) pronoun
b) adjective
d) conjunction
3. Our family _______ the newspaper daily.
a) adverb
c) preposition
b) noun
d) verb
4. I didn’t recognize him _______ a beard.
a) preposition
c) adverb
b) verb
d) noun
5) We ______ locked the keys in the car.
a) conjunction
c) adjective
b) verb
d) adverb
1) Create a quiz: Tear a sheet of paper in half. One the first half, create a 5 sentence
quiz with each sentence having a missing word. On the other half sheet write out the
answer key indicating the part of speech the missing word should be. I will give the
quiz to another student to take.
2) Take a quiz: I will randomly give you a quiz another student wrote. You will take
the quiz, writing a one-sentence explanation for each of your answers.
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