The passage below is accompanied by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.

Vocabulary used in speech or writing organizes itself in seven parts of speech (eight, if you count interjections such as Oh! and Gosh! and Fuhgeddaboudit!). Communication composed of these parts of speech must be organized by rules of grammar upon which we agree. When these rules break down, confusion and misunderstanding result. Bad grammar produces bad sentences. My favorite example from Strunk and White is this one: “As a mother of five, with another one on the way, my ironing board is always up.”

Nouns and verbs are the two indispensable parts of writing. Without one of each, no group of words can be a sentence, since a sentence is, by definition, a group of words containing a subject (noun) and a predicate (verb); these strings of words begin with a capital letter, end with a period, and combine to make a complete thought which starts in the writer’s head and then leaps to the reader’s.

Must you write complete sentences each time, every time? Perish the thought. If your work consists only of fragments and floating clauses, the Grammar Police aren’t going to come and take you away. Even William Strunk, that Mussolini of rhetoric, recognized the delicious pliability of language. “It is an old observation,” he writes, “that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric.” Yet he goes on to add this thought, which I urge you to consider: “Unless he is certain of doing well, [the writer] will probably do best to follow the rules.”

The telling clause here is Unless he is certain of doing well. If you don’t have a rudimentary grasp of how the parts of speech translate into coherent sentences, how can you be certain that you are doing well? How will you know if you’re doing ill, for that matter? The answer, of course, is that you can’t, you won’t. One who does grasp the rudiments of grammar finds a comforting simplicity at its heart, where there need be only nouns, the words that name, and verbs, the words that act.

Take any noun, put it with any verb, and you have a sentence. It never fails. Rocks explode. Jane transmits. Mountains float. These are all perfect sentences. Many such thoughts make little rational sense, but even the stranger ones (Plums deify!) have a kind of poetic weight that’s nice. The simplicity of noun-verb construction is useful—at the very least it can provide a safety net for your writing. Strunk and White caution against too many simple sentences in a row, but simple sentences provide a path you can follow when you fear getting lost in the tangles of rhetoric—all those restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses, those modifying phrases, those appositives and compound-complex sentences. If you start to freak out at the sight of such unmapped territory (unmapped by you, at least), just remind yourself that rocks explode, Jane transmits, mountains float, and plums deify. Grammar is . . . the pole you grab to get your thoughts up on their feet and walking.

Question 14

Inferring from the passage, the author could be most supportive of which one of the following practices?


In this question, we need to identify the statement that coincides with the aspects discussed by the author. Putting ourselves in the author's shoes, we know that grammar (and the necessity to appropriately learn it) is the primary idea that needs to be conveyed. Writers with a substantial understanding of the elementary rules in grammar can appreciate the "comforting simplicity at its heart" (is what the author claims). Thus, the author will surely support any stance that concurs with the above.

Option A: This will definitely supplement the assertion made by the author. It will enable writers with the requisite understanding of the standard governing rules - a significant necessity highlighted by the author. He is bound to favor such an action. 

Option B: The author would endorse such drastic measures (does not match the tone). The pliability of grammatical rules is a noticeable comment made by the author (but only for those well-versed with it). Hence, we can eliminate this option.

Option C: The author does not portray any view that promotes the eschewal of rhetoric. This again deviates from the discussion in the passage and can be scrapped as the correct choice.

Option D: The focus is broad: on grammar (not just on punctuation and capitalization). 

It is evident that Option A is the only sensible statement that the author would support here.  

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