GRE Verbal Reasoning: Sentence Equivalence


The Sentence Equivalence questions include a single sentence, one blank, and six possible answer choices. The blanks in Sentence Equivalence questions have two correct answers. Note: you will not receive partial credit for only giving one of them.

Tips and Tricks for Sentence Equivalence:

  • Do not look in the answer choices for two words that are alike. This can be deceiving for two reasons. Firstly, although the words might be alike in meaning, they may not fit logically into the sentence. Secondly, the correct words may not have the same meaning. All that matters is that the resulting sentences are identical in meaning.

Examples:

Q1. Lying to the police is ________________ to perjury; both are crimes with equally severe punishments.  

  tantamount

  reflectible

  quixotic

  preferable

  opulent

  comparable

Answer: A and F

Solution: Tantamount and comparable mean equivalent or equal to.  The semicolon is a same direction trigger that lets us know that the information after it explains the blank.  The information after the semicolon says that the crimes are equally punished- therefore we are looking for something that means something similar to "equal."  When tantamount is inserted into the sentence, it reads "Lying to the police is tantamount to perjury; both are crimes with equally severe punishments."  Lying to the police is equal to perjury because the punishment is equal. The same is true when comparable is inserted into the sentence.   

Choice B is not correct.  Reflectible means able to be reflected back.

Choice C is not correct.  Quixotic means overly romantic or doting.

Choice D is not correct.  Preferable means preferred to, or a better option than something else.  Since the clues tell us that the crimes have equal punishment, lying to the police would not be preferable to perjury.

Choice E is not correct.  Opulent means wealthy.  

Q2. Lacey’s reputation for being __________________ was well deserved; she yelled at all of the neighborhood children and refused to speak to any person that came to her door.  

  misanthropic

  irascible

  coniferous

  temporal

  surly

  sordid

Answers: A and E

Solution: Misanthropic means hating mankind or strongly disliking people. Surly means ill-tempered and un-friendly. The semicolon is a same direction trigger that suggests that the following information explains the preceding information.  The clues after the semicolon involve her yelling at children and refusing to speak to people.  Thus, we know her reputation has to be something like "unfriendly" or a similar word- like misanthropic or surly.  When misanthropic is inserted into the sentence, the sentence reads "Lacey’s reputation for being misanthropic was well deserved; she yelled at all of the neighborhood children and refused to speak to any person that came to her door."  She deserved her reputation for hating people, because of these actions that expressed a dislike of people. The same is true when surly is inserted.

Choice B is not correct.  Irascible means easily angered- while this would explain why Lacey yells at children, it would not explain why she refused to speak to people that came to her door.  

Choice C is not correct.  Coniferous refers to a type of tree that has cones (like pine trees with pine cones).

Choice D is not correct.  Temporal describes a person who is focused on the present.

Choice E is not correct.  Sordid means of unclean character.