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Advanced Question types for O level Comprehension

Answering advanced comprehension questions(language use & irony)

Excel in O level comprehension- question types

1) The Language Use Question

The Language Use Question can:

(i) Test your understanding of words/phrases/expressions used in the passage.

Question: What is the author suggesting with the use of the word ‘floated’? [This question can also be phrased this way: “Why did the author use the word ‘floated’ instead of ‘walked’ in line 1?]

Answer: He is suggesting that Jeremiah was feeling very happy.

[‘ feeling happy.’ is not good enough for this question – it is not accurate]


(ii) Require you to look into word associations.

Example: Joshua drifted from one job to another

Question: What is the author suggesting with the use of the word ‘drifted’ here?

To answer this question, ask yourself this question: What do we normally associate with the word ‘drifted’?

When we hear the word ‘drifted’, we usually think of something (or someone) floating in water and being driven along by the waves, the current or the wind. We can therefore link the word ‘drifted’ to the word ‘moved’. In addition, if something drifts in the sea/ocean/river, it (or he/she) will float wherever the wind, current or waves bring it (or he/she) to. We can therefore link the word ‘drift’ with the idea of •aimlessness•, or having no clear direction.

Answer : He is suggestin g that John moved aimlessly from one job to another.


(iii) Require you to look into nuances (or slight differences) of meaning.

Example: “Get back here, you imbeciles!” Glen bellowed

Question: Why did the author use the word ‘bellowed’ instead of ‘shouted’?

To answer this question, you must know that there is a slight difference between ‘bellowed’ and ‘shouted’. Both words tell us that Glen spoke in a loud voice, but when he ‘bellowed’ his words, he shouted them in a deep voice.

Answer: It was to show that Glen spoke in a voice that was not only loud, but also deep.

NOTE:  Under the ‘Language Use’ category of questions, you have to be able to answer questions on the author’s use of irony. Irony can be defined in three different ways:


2) The IRONY Type I Questions

For advanced comprehension questions,IRONY Type I Questions is a particular use of language in which the words used by the writer (speaker) are clearly the opposite of what he really means.

Example: “Oh, him? He’s the most hardworking man in the whole villagel “

(where the speaker is actually talking about the only man in the village who has never ever bothered to find a job, and spends his days lazing around in his mother’s house.)

3) The IRONY Type II Questions

For advanced comprehension questions, IRONY Type II Questions is a particular use of language which not only has an ‘outer’ (superficial) meaning but also an ‘inner’ (secret) meaning which only some readers (listeners) are aware of.

Question‘I can’t be with you on Mother’s Day, but you know I’ll be with you in spirit.’ Explain the Irony here.[2)

Answer : This is ironic because Jason meant that he could not be with her, physically, on Mother’s Day as  he  would  be  in  Switzerland, but he would be thinking of her on that day. However, after the plane crash, it now also means that he could not be with her because he is dead, and that is why he would always be with her ‘in spirit’.


4) The IRONY Type Ill Questions

The IRONY of a situation is the way in which a situation is odd/absurd/amusing because what actually happens is the opposite of what might be expected to happen:

Author’s note: This is actually doubly ironic, because not only did she end up being the only one among her gang in the new school, but instead of having her friends around her, the only other person from her primary school to be admitted to RGSS was none other than her arch-enemy!

NOTE:  Most likely, you will encounter questions based on Irony Type II or Irony Type Ill (usually worth 2 marks each). For questions on Irony Type II, you will have to point out both the superficial meaning, as well as the secret meaning. For questions on Irony Type Ill, you will have to show that what actually happens is the opposite of what is expected to happen.

1 Comment
  1. Excellent content!