19

I
magine, foi a moment, that you aie a detective. You have just been called to the scene of a ciime; a house has
ist thing you should do when you aiiive:

a. See what`s on the TV.
b. Check what`s in the fiidge.
c. Get the basic facts of the case.
The answei, of couise, is c, get the basic facts of the case: the who, what, when, wheie, and how. What happened:
To whom: When: Wheie: How did it happen:
ist thing you should do is establish the
facts. What does this piece of wiiting tell you: What happens: To whom: When, wheie, and how: If you can answei
these basic questions, you`ie on youi way to ieally compiehending what you iead. (You`ll woik on answeiing the
cult question- °\hy did it happen:"- in Lesson 2.)
LE$$ON $UMMARY
The lirsr srep in increosing your reoding comprehension is ro leorn
how ro ger rhe 6osic inlormorion. Li|e o good derecrive, srorr wirh
rhe 6osic locrs. To ger rhe locrs, 6e on ocrive reoder ond loo| lor
clues os you reod.
Caress the detail, the divine detail.
-Vi:nixiv N:noxov, Russian-Ameiican novelist (1899-1977)
GETTING THE
E55ENTIAL
INFOPMATION
1
20
~GETTI NG THE E55ENTI AL I NFOPMATI ON~
Wbat Are tbe Facts?
nition. A fact is
something that we know foi ceitain to have
happened.
something that we know foi ceitain to be tiue.
something that we know foi ceitain to exist.
Much of what you iead, especially today in this
°Infoimation Age," is designed to piovide you with
ce
pioceduie that you must follow; about how the new
computei system woiks; oi about what happened at
the staff meeting. If you`ie taking a standaidized test,
you`ll piobably have to answei ieading compiehension
questions that ask about the facts in a ieading passage.
These facts aie not always easy to deteimine, especially
if the wiiting is dense oi complicated. To make it sim-
plei, ask youiself these questions as you iead: What
facts am I expected to know: What am I to leain oi be
awaie of: What happened: What is tiue: What exists:
Practice Passage 1
nding facts. The following
biief passage is similai to something you might see in a
newspapei. Read the passage caiefully, and then answei
the questions that follow. Remembei, caieful ieading is
active ieading (see the Intioduction), so maik up the
text as you go. Undeiline key woids and ideas; ciicle and
ne any unfamiliai woids oi phiases; and iecoid
youi ieactions and questions in the maigins.
On Fiiday, Octobei 21, at appioximately 8:30 :.x., Judith Reynolds, ownei of
iobbed and vandalized oveinight. The fiont window of the shop at 128 Bioad
Stieet was bioken, and chaiis and tables weie oveituined thioughout the café
aiea. Additionally, the cash iegistei had been piied open and emptied of money.
The thieves attempted to open the safe as well, but weie unsuccessful. Ms. Reyn-
olds used hei cell phone to iepoit the ciime to the police. She also phoned the
piopiietoi of Piimo Pizza, located at 130 Bioad Stieet, as she noticed that the
dooi of that iestauiant showed signs of foiced entiy. The police depaitment is
asking anyone with infoimation to call 555-2323.
1. What happened to The Cupcake Factoiy:
2. When was the ciime discoveied:
3. Wheie did it happen:
4. What was stolen:
5. Who called the police:
6. What othei businesses weie affected:
21
~GETTI NG THE E55ENTI AL I NFOPMATI ON~
Remembei, good ieading is active ieading. Did you maik up the passage: If so, it may have looked something
like this:
On Fiiday, Octobei 21, at appioximately 8:30 :.x., Judith Reynolds, ownei of
iobbed and vandalized oveinight. The fiont window of the shop at 128 Bioad
Stieet was bioken, and chaiis and tables weie oveituined thioughout the café
aiea. Additionally, the cash iegistei had been piied open and emptied of money.
The thieves attempted to open the safe as well, but weie unsuccessful. Ms. Reyn-
olds used hei cell phone to iepoit the ciime to the police. She also phoned the
piopiietoi of Piimo Pizza, located at 130 Bioad Stieet, as she noticed that the
dooi of that iestauiant showed signs of foiced entiy. The police depaitment is
asking anyone with infoimation to call 555-2323.
You`ll notice that the answeis to the questions
have all been undeilined, because these aie the key
woids and ideas in this passage. But heie aie the
answeis in a moie conventional foim.
1. What happened to The Cupcake Factoiy: It was
rcbbed and vandalized.
2. When was the ciime discoveied: At 8.30  cn
Friday, Cctcber 21.
3. Wheie did it happen: 128 Brcad Street.
4. What was stolen: Mcney frcm the cash register.
5. Who called the police: }udith Reynclds, cwner cf
The Cupcake Factcry.
6. What othei businesses weie affected: Pcssibly
Primc Pizza.
Notice that these questions went beyond the
basic who, what, when, and wheie to include some of
the details, like why the piopiietoi of the iestauiant
next dooi was called. This is because details in ieading
compiehension, as well as in detective woik, can be
veiy impoitant clues that may help answei the iemain-
ing questions: Who did it, how, and why:
.|cc .|c
22
~GETTI NG THE E55ENTI AL I NFOPMATI ON~
Practice Passage 2
This passage piovides instiuctions foi ienewing a diivei`s license. Read it caiefully and answei the questions
that follow.
Instructions for License Renewal
A diivei`s license must be ienewed eveiy foui yeais. A ienewal application is sent
ve to seven weeks befoie the expiiation date listed on the license.
Individuals who fail to ienew within thiee yeais of the license expiiation date
aie not eligible foi a ienewal and must iepeat the initial licensing piocess. To
ienew a license, you must visit a Motoi Vehicles Agency. You must piesent a
completed ienewal application; youi cuiient diivei`s license; acceptable pioof
cation, and addiess; and pioof of social secuiity in the foim of a
social secuiity caid, a state oi fedeial income tax ietuin, a cuiient pay stub, oi
a W-2 foim. You must also pay the iequiied fee. If all the documents and pay-
ment aie in oidei, youi photo will be taken and a new license will be issued.
7. What documents does one need to ienew a
diivei`s license:
8. What documents iepiesent pioof of social
secuiity:
9. How often must one ienew a diivei`s license:
10. How does one obtain the ienewal foim:
11. Tiue oi False: You can ienew youi diivei`s license
by mail.
Befoie you look at the answeis, look at the next
page to see how you might have maiked up the passage
to highlight the impoitant infoimation.
23
~GETTI NG THE E55ENTI AL I NFOPMATI ON~
Instructions for License Renewal
A diivei`s license must be ienewed eveiy foui yeais. A ienewal application is sent
ve to seven weeks befoie the expiiation date listed on the license.
Individuals who fail to ienew within thiee yeais of the license expiiation date
aie not eligible foi a ienewal and must iepeat the initial licensing piocess. To
ienew a license, you must visit a Motoi Vehicles Agency. You must piesent a
completed ienewal application; youi cuiient diivei`s license; acceptable pioof
cation, and addiess; and pioof of social secuiity in the foim of a
social secuiity caid, a state oi fedeial income tax ietuin, a cuiient pay stub, oi
a W-2 foim. You must also pay the iequiied fee. If all the documents and pay-
ment aie in oidei, youi photo will be taken and a new license will be issued.
|c. cí:cc | cccc :c cccc.
With a maiked-up text like this, it`s veiy easy to
nd the answeis.
7. What documents does one need to ienew a
diivei`s license:
Ccmpleted renewal applicaticn
Current driver´s license
caticn,
and address
Prccf cf sccial security
Mcney tc pay required fee
8. What documents iepiesent pioof of social
secuiity:
Sccial security card
State cr federal inccme tax return
Current pay stub
\-2 fcrm
9. How often must one ienew a diivei`s license:
Every fcur years.
10. How does one obtain the ienewal foim: It is sent
ve tc seven weeks befcre current license expires.
11. Tiue oi False: You can ienew youi diivei`s license
by mail. False. Ycu can renew cnly by visiting a
Mctcr Vehicles Agency.
Ser our ro reod wirh on explorer's eye ond sense
ol curiosiry 6y pro6ing inro deroils 6ehind |ey
ocrions ond evenrs. ¦l you ore unlomilior wirh o
c locruol deroil in o possoge, consider
os|ing o lriend or lomily mem6er lor help, or
chec| o relerence source such os o dicrionory,
orlos, encyclopedio, or ¦nrerner doro6ose. There
ore prinr ond ¦nrerner orchive collecrions ond
speciolized li6rories covering olmosr every
imogino6le su6|ecr÷lrom spoce missions ond
hisrory ro rhe perlorming orrs.
Exomple: Louis B. Moyer Li6rory÷
Li6rory ol rhe Americon Film ¦nsrirure
Exomple: Morgorer Herric| Li6rory÷
Acodemy ol Morion Ficrure Arrs ond
Sciences
TIP
24
~GETTI NG THE E55ENTI AL I NFOPMATI ON~
Practice Passage 3
Now look at one moie shoit passage. Again, iead caiefully and answei the questions that follow.
cient and ieliable than evei befoie. Mail that
used to take months to move by hoise and foot now moves aiound the countiy
in days oi houis by tiuck, tiain, and plane. Fiist-class mail usually moves fiom
New Yoik City to Los Angeles in thiee days oi less. If youi lettei oi package is
uigent, the U.S. Postal Seivice offeis Piioiity Mail and Expiess Mail seivices.
Piioiity Mail is guaianteed to go anywheie in the United States in two to thiee
days oi less. Expiess Mail will get youi package theie oveinight.
12. Who oi what is this passage about:
13. How was mail tianspoited in the past:
14. How is mail tianspoited now:
15.
16. How long does Piioiity Mail take:
17. How long does Expiess Mail take:
Once again, heie`s how you might have maiked
up this passage:
cient and ieliable than evei befoie. Mail that
used to take months to move by hoise and foot now moves aiound the countiy
in days oi houis by tiuck, tiain, and plane. Fiist-class mail usually moves fiom
New Yoik City to Los Angeles in thiee days oi less. If youi lettei oi package is
uigent, the U.S. Postal Seivice offeis Piioiity Mail and Expiess Mail seivices.
Piioiity Mail is guaianteed to go anywheie in the United States in two to thiee
days oi less. Expiess Mail will get youi package theie oveinight.
You can see how maiking up a text helps make it
easiei to undeistand the infoimation a passage con-
veys.
12. Who oi what is this passage about: The U.S.
Pcstal Service.
13. How was mail tianspoited in the past: By hcrse
and fcct.
14. How is mail tianspoited now: By truck, train,
and plane.
15. Usually three
days cr less.
16. How long does Piioiity Mail take: Twc tc three
days cr less.
17. How long does Expiess Mail take: Cvernight.
25
~GETTI NG THE E55ENTI AL I NFOPMATI ON~
5ummary
ist essential step to compiehen-
sion. Why: Because active ieading foices you to ieally
see what you`ie ieading, to look closely at what`s theie.
Like a detective who aiiives at the scene of a ciime, if
you look caiefully and ask the iight questions (who,
what, when, wheie, how, and why), you`ie on youi way
to ieally compiehending what you iead.
Hone your reoding comprehension s|ills 6y
onswering rhese six essenriol quesrions olrer
reoding orricles in rhe doily newspoper:
Who?
Whor?
When?
Where?
Why?
How?
TIP
27
W
hen Lesson 1 talked about establishing the facts- the who, what, when, wheie, and how- it omitted
one veiy impoitant question: Why: Now you`ie ieady to tackle that all - impoitant question. Just as
theie`s a motive behind eveiy ciime, theie`s also a motive behind eveiy piece of wiiting.
All wiiting is communication. A wiitei wiites to convey his oi hei thoughts to an audience, the ieadei: you.
Just as you have something to say (a motive) when you pick up the phone to call someone, wiiteis have something
to say (a motive) when they pick up a pen oi pencil to wiite. Wheie a detective might ask, °Why did the butlei
do it:" the ieadei might ask, °Why did the authoi wiite this: What idea is he oi she tiying to convey:" What you`ie
ieally asking is, °What is the wiitei`s main idea:"
why) that
usually deteimines the othei factois (the whc, what, when, where, and hcw). Similaily, in wiiting, the main idea
also deteimines the whc, what, when, and where the wiitei will wiite about, as well as hcw he oi she will wiite.
LE$$ON $UMMARY
A derecrive linds rhe locrs ro derermine "whodunir" ond whor rhe
morive wos. A reoder derermines rhe locrs nor only lor rheir own
so|e 6ur olso ro lind our why rhe ourhor is wriring: Whor's rhe moin
ideo? This lesson shows you how ro derermine rhe moin ideo ol
whor you reod.
There is an art cf reading, as well as an art cf thinking.
-Is::c Disv:vii, Biitish wiitei (1804-1881)
2
FINDING THE
MAIN IDEA
28
~FI NDI NG THE MAI N I DEA~
5ubject vs. Main Idea
Theie`s a diffeience between the subject of a piece of
wiiting and its main idea. To see the diffeience, look
again at the passage about the postal system. Don`t skip
ovei it! You iead it in Lesson 1, but please iead it again,
and iead it caiefully.
cient and ieliable
than evei befoie. Mail that used to take months to
move by hoise and foot now moves aiound the
countiy in days oi houis by tiuck, tiain, and plane.
Fiist-class mail usually moves fiom New Yoik City
to Los Angeles in thiee days oi less. If youi lettei oi
package is uigent, the U.S. Postal Seivice offeis Pii-
oiity Mail and Expiess Mail seivices. Piioiity Mail
is guaianteed to go anywheie in the United States in
two to thiee days oi less. Expiess Mail will get youi
package theie oveinight.
You might be asked on a standaidized test, °What
is the main idea of this passage:"
Foi this passage, you might be tempted to answei,
ce."
But you`d be wiong.
This passage is abcut ce, yes- but
ce" is not the main idea of the passage.
ce" is meiely the subject of the passage
(whc oi what the passage is about). The main idea
must say something abcut this subject. The main idea
of a text is usually an asserticn about the subject. An
asseition is a statement that iequiies evidence (°pioof")
to be accepted as tiue.
The main idea of a passage is an asseition about
its subject, but it is something moie: It is the idea that
also holds togethei oi contiols the passage. The othei
sentences and ideas in the passage will all ielate to that
main idea and seive as °evidence" that the asseition is
tiue. You might think of the main idea as a net that is
cast ovei the othei sentences. The main idea must be
geneial enough to hold all of these ideas togethei.
Thus, the main idea of a passage is
an asseition about the subject.
the geneial idea that contiols oi holds togethei the
paiagiaph oi passage.
Look at the postal seivice paiagiaph once moie.
ce." Now, see
if you can deteimine the main idea. Read the passage
again and look foi the idea that makes an asseition
about the postal seivice and holds togethei oi contiols
the whole paiagiaph. Then answei the following
question:
Which of the following sentences best summaiizes
the main idea of the passage:
a. Expiess Mail is a good way to send uigent
mail.
b. Mail seivice today is moie effective and
dependable than it was in the past.
c. Fiist-class mail usually takes thiee days oi less.
Because choice a c- it tells us cnly about
Expiess Mail- it cannot be the main idea. It does not
encompass the iest of the sentences in the paiagiaph- it
ist-class mail. Choice c
ist class mail,
so it, too, cannot be the main idea.
But choice b-°Mail seivice today is moie effec-
tive and dependable than it was in the past"- is geneial
enough to encompass the whole passage. And the iest
of the sentences suppcrt the idea that this sentence
asseits: Each sentence offeis °pioof " that the postal
ciency
and ieliability of today`s postal seivice.
29
~FI NDI NG THE MAI N I DEA~
¦l you ore hoving rrou6le idenrilying rhe moin ideos
in o srory, rry os|ing yoursell rhese quesrions:
Whor unilying concepr is rhe ourhor
srriving ro communicore?
¦s rhere o morol or lesson rhor rhe ourhor
is rrying ro reoch?
Are rhere ony reoccurring sym6ols or
imogery rhor rhe ourhor is using ro com-
municore o deeper meoning?
TIP
Topic 5entences
You`ll notice that in the paiagiaph about the postal
ist
cient and
ieliable than evei befoie." A sentence, such as this
one, that cleaily expiesses the main idea of a paia-
giaph oi passage is often called a tcpic sentence.
In many cases, as in the postal seivice paiagiaph,
the topic sentence is at the beginning of the paiagiaph.
nd it at the end. Less often, but
on occasion, the topic sentence may be in the middle of
the passage. Whatevei the case, the topic sentence- like
cient and ieliable
than evei befoie"- is an asseition, and it needs °pioof."
The pioof is found in the facts and ideas that make up
the iest of the passage. (Not all passages piovide such a
cleai topic sentence that states the main idea. Less obvi-
ous passages will come up in latei lessons.)
Practice in Identifying Topic
5entences
Remembei that a topic sentence is a cleai statement of
the main idea of a passage; it must be geneial enough
to encompass all the ideas in that passage, and it usu-
ally makes an asseition about the subject of that pas-
sage. Knowing all that, you can answei the following
question even without ieading a passage.
Practice 1
Which of the following sentences is geneial enough
to be a topic sentence:
a. The new health club has a gieat kickboxing
class.
b. Many diffeient classes aie offeied by the
health club.
c. Pilates is a populai class at the health club.
d. The yoga class is offeied on Satuiday
moinings.
The answei is choice b, °Many diffeient classes
aie offeied by the health club." Choices a, c, and d aie
c examples of what is said in choice b, so they
aie not geneial enough to be topic sentences.
Practice 2
Now look at the following paiagiaph. Undeiline the
sentence that expiesses the main idea, and notice how
the othei sentences woik to suppoit that main idea.
Eiik always played cops and iobbeis when he was a
cei. Suzanne always played
school as a little giil; today, she is a high-school
math teachei. Kaia always played stoie; today, she
owns a chain of ietail clothing shops. Long befoie
they aie faced with the question, °What do you want
to be when you giow up:" some lucky people know
exactly what they want to do with theii lives.
Which sentence did you undeiline: You should
have undeilined the last sentence: °Long befoie they
aie faced with the question 'What do you want to be
when you giow up:` some lucky people know exactly
what they want to do with theii lives." This sentence is
a good topic sentence; it expiesses the idea that holds
togethei the whole paiagiaph. The fiist thiee
sentences- about Eiik, Suzanne, and Kaia- aie spe-
c examples of these lucky people. Notice that the
topic sentence is found at the end of the paiagiaph.
30
~FI NDI NG THE MAI N I DEA~
Practice 3
Among the following eight sentences aie twc topic sen-
tences. The othei sentences aie suppoiting sentences.
Ciicle the two topic sentences. Then wiite the numbeis
of the suppoiting sentences that go with each topic
sentence.
1. Finally, theie is a concieige on duty 24 houis a day.
2. Some duties, like wiiting iepoits, have no iisk at
all.
3. ooi.
4. Not all police duties aie dangeious.
5. ceis at veiy
little iisk.
6. Tenants of the luxuiy apaitment building enjoy
many amenities.
7. Still othei duties, like investigating accidents,
ceis fiee of dangei.
8. In addition, the lobby has a diy cleanei, an ATM,
and a coffee shop.
Sentences 4 and 6 aie the two topic sentences
because both make an asseition about a geneial subject.
The suppoiting sentences foi topic sentence 4, °Not all
police duties aie dangeious," aie sentences 2, 5, and 7.
The suppoiting sentences foi topic sentence 6, °Tenants
of the luxuiy apaitment building enjoy many ameni-
ties," aie the iemaining sentences 1, 3, and 8.
Heie`s how they look as paiagiaphs:
Not all police duties aie dangeious. Some duties,
like wiiting iepoits, have no iisk at all. Otheis, like
ceis at veiy little iisk. Still
-
ceis fiee of dangei.
Tenants of the luxuiy apaitment building enjoy
many amenities. Foi example, theie is a pool on the
ooi. In addition, the lobby has a diy cleanei, an
ATM, and a coffee shop. Finally, theie is a concieige
on duty 24 houis a day.
You might have noticed that the suppoiting sen-
ist paiagiaph about police duties begin
with the following woids: scme, cthers, and still cther.
These woids aie often used to intioduce examples. The
second paiagiaph uses diffeient woids, but they have
the same function: fcr example, in additicn, and nally.
If a sentence begins with such a woid oi phiase, that is
a good indication it is nct a topic sentence-because it
c example.
Heie aie some woids and phiases often used to
c examples:
foi example
foi instance
in addition
fuitheimoie
in paiticulai
some
otheis
nding the main idea of
a paiagiaph, you might tiy eliminating the sentences
that you know contain suppoiting evidence.
31
~FI NDI NG THE MAI N I DEA~
5ummary
Now you can answei the last question- the why. What
is the wiitei`s motive: What`s the main idea he oi she
nding the sentence that makes an
asseition about the subject of the paiagiaph and that
encompasses the othei sentences in the paiagiaph, you
can uncovei the authoi`s motive.
To idenrily rhe moin ideo in o srory ir con 6e helplul
ro creore o srory mop or grophic orgonizer. ¦n
seporore 6oxes in your grophic orgonizer, you should
include
rhe nomes ol mo|or ond minor chorocrers.
mo|or ond minor serrings.
icrs occurring 6erween chorocrers.
|ey evenrs.
mo|or resolurions.
ourhor's purpose. (¦s rhe ourhor's gool ro
enrerroin, reoch, inlorm, or persuode reoders
ro em6roce o porriculor philosophicol view-
poinr or concepr?)
TIP
33
5
ometimes in youi ieading, you come acioss woids oi phiases that aie unfamiliai to you. You might be
lucky and have a dictionaiy handy to look up that woid oi phiase, but what if you don`t: How can you
undeistand what you`ie ieading if you don`t know what all of the woids mean: The answei is that you
can use the iest of the passage, the ccntext,
LE$$ON $UMMARY
An ocrive reoder loo|s up unlomilior words. Bur whor il you don'r
hove o dicrionory? ¦n o resring siruorion (or, lor rhor morrer, il
you're reoding on rhe 6us), you olmosr cerroinly won'r 6e o6le ro
loo| up words you don'r |now. ¦nsreod, you con use rhe conrexr
ro help you derermine rhe meoning.
Ianguage is the dress cf thcught.
-S:xuvi Jouxsox, English authoi (1709-1784)

DEFINING
VOCAßULAPY
IN CONTEXT
34
~DEFI NI NG VOCAßULAPY I N CONTEXT~
Finding Meaning from Context
The following paiagiaph is about one of oui nation`s favoiite pastimes, ieality TV. Read it caiefully, maiking it
up as you go-but do not look up any unfamiliai woids oi phiases in a dictionaiy.
Most ieality TV shows centei on two common motivatois: fame and money.
The shows tiansfoim waitiesses, haiidiesseis, investment bankeis, counselois,
few successfully pailay theii 15 minutes of fame into celebiity. Even if you aie
not inteiested in fame, you can piobably undeistand the desiie foi lots of money.
Watching people eat laige insects, ieveal theii inneimost thoughts to millions
nancial
iewaid makes foi inteiesting enteitainment. Whatevei theii attiaction, these
shows aie among the most populai on television, and eveiy season, they piolif-
eiate like weeds in an untended gaiden. The netwoiks aie quickly ieplacing
moie tiaditional diamas and comedies with ieality TV piogiams, which eain
millions in adveitising ievenue. Whethei you love it oi hate it, one thing is foi
suie- ieality TV is heie to stay!
As you iead, you may have ciicled some woids
that aie unfamiliai. Did you ciicle cbscure and prclif-
erate: If so, don`t look them up in a dictionaiy yet. If
you do a little detective woik, you can deteimine theii
nitions by looking caiefully at how they aie used
in the paiagiaph.
What Does Obscure Mean?
Stait with cbscure. How is this woid used:
The shows tiansfoim waitiesses, haiidiesseis,
investment bankeis, counselois, and teacheis, to
name a few, fiom cbscure guies to household
names.
Even if you have no idea what cbscure means, you
can still leain about the woid by how it is used, by
examining the woids and ideas suiiounding it. This is
called deteimining woid meaning thiough ccntext.
Like detectives looking foi clues at a ciime scene, we
must look at the passage foi clues that will help us
ne this woid.
So, given the sentence we have heie, what can we
tell about cbscure: Well, since the shows tiansfoim
waitiesses, haiidiesseis, investment bankeis, counsel-
ois, and teacheis fiom one position(cbscure guies),
to anothei position (household names), that immedi-
ately tells us that an cbscure guie and a household
name aie two diffeient things.
Fuitheimoie, we know fiom the sentence that
the people in question aie involved in typical, eveiyday
jobs (waitiesses, haiidiesseis, bankeis, etc.) and that
fiom this position, they aie tiansfoimed into house-
hold names, which means they achieve some level of
fame and notoiiety. Now you can take a pietty good
guess at the meaning of cbscure.
35
~DEFI NI NG VOCAßULAPY I N CONTEXT~
1. Befoie they become household names, the
waitiesses, haiidiesseis, investment bankeis,
counselois, and teacheis aie
 famous and notoiious.
 unknown and undistinguished.
 unique and distinctive.
The coiiect answei, of couise, is choice . It cei-
tainly can`t be choice , because we know that these
people aie not yet famous. The ieality shows will make
them famous, but until that happens, they iemain
cbscure. Choice  doesn`t ieally make sense because we
know fiom the passage that these people aie waitiesses,
haiidiesseis, investment bankeis, counselois, and
teacheis. Now, these aie all veiy iespectable jobs, but
they aie faiily common, so they wouldn`t be desciibed
as unique oi distinctive. Fuitheimoie, we can tell that
choice  is the coiiect answei because we can substitute
the woid cbscure with the woids unkncwn oi undistin-
guished in the sentence and both would make sense.
Peview: Finding Facts
Heie`s a quick ieview of what you leained in question 1.
Reality TV has the ability to take oidinaiy people and
make them famous.
2. Anothei ieason people paiticipate in ieality TV
shows is
 foi money.
 because they feel lucky.
 because they aie boied.
A quick check of the facts in the paiagiaph will
tell you the answei is choice , foi money.
What Does ProIiferate Mean?
Look again at the sentence in the passage in which
prcliferate is used:
Whatevei theii attiaction, these shows aie among
the most populai on television, and eveiy season,
they prcliferate like weeds in an untended gaiden.
Again, even if you have no idea what prcliferate
means, you can still tell what kind of woid it is by the
way it is used. You know, foi example, that these shows
piolifeiate like weeds in an untended gaiden. Theie-
foie, you can answei this question:
3. Piolifeiate is a woid associated with
 giowth.
 ieduction.
 disappeaiance.
The answei, of couise, is choice , giowth. How
can you tell: Well, we all know that weeds have a ten-
dency to giow wheievei they can.
Now that you`ve established that prcliferate ielates
c meaning
by looking foi moie clues in the sentence. The sentence
doesn`t only tell us that these shows piolifeiate like
weeds. It also tells us that they piolifeiate like weeds in
an untended gaiden. Just imagine a neglected gaiden,
one that has been left to its own devices. Weeds will
begin to giow in eveiy nook and cianny of that gaiden.
In fact, they`ll quickly take ovei, to the detiiment of the
plants. The phiase °weeds in an untended gaiden" is
quite desciiptive, and as such, it seives as a wondeiful
clue. Based on the woids and phiases suiiounding it,
an active ieadei should have no pioblem deteimining
the meaning of the woid prcliferate.
4. Prcliferate in this passage means
 deciease, shiink.
 undeiestimate, play down.
 inciease, spiead at a iapid iate.
 fail, fall shoit.
36
~DEFI NI NG VOCAßULAPY I N CONTEXT~
The coiiect answei is choice , °inciease, spiead
at a iapid iate." It can`t be choices  oi  because these
aie things associated with ieduction, not giowth. And
eveiyone knows that weeds in an untended gaiden will
giow fast and aggiessively. Choice  is not an appiopii-
ate answei because if you ieplace prcliferate with
undeiestimate oi play down, it doesn`t ieally make
sense. In addition, you can tell that choice  is the iight
answei because the iest of the passage piovides othei
clues. It tells you that ieality TV shows aie ieplacing
othei netwoik piogiams, that they aie populai, and
that they aie eaining millions of dollais in adveitising
ievenue. All these clues would indicate that ieality TV
shows aie spieading and giowing in numbei, not
shiinking oi declining. Hence, the meaning of prcliferate
must be , °inciease, spiead at a iapid iate."
In the pievious example, you would still be able to
undeistand the main message of the passage even if
guie out-the mean-
ing of cbscure and prcliferate. In some cases, howevei,
youi undeistanding of a passage depends on youi
undeistanding of a paiticulai woid oi phiase. Can you
undeistand the following sentence, foi example, with-
out knowing what adversely means:
Reality TV shows will adversely affect tiaditional
diamas and comedies.
What does adversely mean in this sentence: Is it
something good oi bad: As good a detective as you
may be, theie simply aien`t enough clues in this sen-
tence to tell you what this woid means. But a passage
with moie infoimation will give you what you need to
deteimine meaning fiom context.
Reality TV shows will adversely affect tiaditional
diamas and comedies. As ieality TV incieases in popu-
laiity, netwoik executives will begin canceling moie
tiaditional diamas and comedies and ieplacing them
with the latest in ieality TV.
5. In the passage, adversely most neaily means
 mildly, slightly.
 kindly, gently.
 negatively, unfavoiably.
 immediately, swiftly.
The coiiect answei is choice , °negatively, unfa-
voiably." The passage piovides clues that allow you to
deteimine the meaning of adversely. It tells you that as
ieality TV becomes moie populai, netwoik executives
will cancel moie tiaditional diamas and comedies and
ieplace them with ieality TV piogiamming. So the
meaning of adversely is neithei choice , °mild oi
slight," noi choice , °kindly oi gently." And based on
the passage, you can`t ieally tell if these changes will
be immediate oi swift (choice ) because the sentence
doesn`t say anything about the exact time fiame in
which these changes will occui. Remembei, good
detectives don`t make assumptions they can`t suppoit
with facts-and theie aie no facts in this sentence to
suppoit the assumption that changes will occui imme-
diately. Thus, choice  is the best answei.
You may also have noticed that ely is veiy
similai to ary. If you know that an adversary is a
hostile opponent oi enemy, then you know that
adversely cannot be something positive. Oi, if you know
the woid ity-haidship oi misfoitune- then
you know that adversely must mean something negative
cult. All these woids shaie the same ioot-
advers. Only the endings change.
37
~DEFI NI NG VOCAßULAPY I N CONTEXT~
¦l you ore unlomilior wirh o porriculor word, use
upon rhe imporronr clues in rhe senrences rhor
oppeor direcrly 6elore ond olrer rhe unlomilior word
or possoge. Funcruorion con help you decipher
unlomilior words:
Forenrheses ore olren used ro highlighr or
exploin words or phroses ond elo6orore
on rhe words rhor precede rhem.
An exclomorion poinr oppeors in o sen-
rence in which some |ind ol surprise,
shoc|, or exciremenr is ro|ing ploce.
Commos olren ser oll non-resrricrive
elemenrs rhor provide oddirionol inlor-
morion ond elo6ororion on o word.
Exomple: | wanted to Luy a dígítaì can-
era wíth a zoon ìens, whích ís very costìy.
(The phrose "which is very cosrly" pro-
vides odded inlormorion rhor con 6e
words rhor come 6elore rhe phrose.)
TIP
Practice
Read the following passages and deteimine the mean-
ing of the woids fiom theii context. The answeis
appeai immediately aftei the questions.
Although social woik is not a paiticulaily lucrative
caieei, I wouldn`t do anything else. Knowing I`m
helping otheis is fai moie impoitant to me than
money.
6. Iucrative means.
 table.
 highly iewaiding.
 highly exciting.
When you aie in an inteiview, tiy not to show any
cvert signs that you aie neivous. Don`t shift in youi
chaii, shake, oi stuttei.
7. Cvert means.
 embaiiassing, awkwaid.
 subtle, suggestive.
 obvious, not hidden.
By the time oui staff meeting ended at 8:00, I was
ravencus. I had skipped lunch and hadn`t eaten since
bieakfast.
8. Ravencus means
 like a iaven, biidlike.
 extiemely hungiy, gieedy foi food.
 exhausted, ieady foi bed.
Answers
6.  The wiitei says money is not impoitant to
him. If money is not an issue, it is okay that
social woik is not table, that it
doesn`t eain a lot of money.
7.  Shifting, shaking, and stutteiing aie all
cbvicus, nct hidden signs of neivousness.
They aie not subtle oi suggestive (choice );
and though they may make the inteiviewee
feel embaiiassed oi awkwaid (choice ), the
signs themselves aie not embaiiassing oi
awkwaid.
8.  Because the wiitei hadn`t eaten since bieak-
fast, she is extremely hungry, greedy fcr fccd.
She may also be exhausted (choice ), but the
context tells us that this woid has something
to do with eating.
38
~DEFI NI NG VOCAßULAPY I N CONTEXT~
5ummary
The ability to deteimine the meaning of unfamiliai
woids fiom theii context is an essential skill foi ieading
compiehension. Sometimes, theie will be unfamiliai
woids whose meaning you can`t deteimine without a
dictionaiy. But moie often than not, a caieful look at
the context will give you enough clues to meaning.
The generol rone or rheme ol rhe rexr con help
Tirles con olso provide clues o6our rhe rone ol o
srory ond rhe rype ol voco6ulory words rhor ore
li|ely ro 6e lound in rhe rexr. Whor overoll rone
does eoch ol rhe lollowing rirles convey?
"Bo6ylon Revisired" 6y F. Scorr Firzgerold
laradíse Lost 6y John Milron
"The Foll ol rhe House ol Usher" 6y
Edgor Allon Foe
The Devíì Wears lrada 6y Louren
Weis6erger
TIP
39
LE$$ON $UMMARY
To mo|e sense ol whor you reod, you musr 6e o6le ro rell
wherher you're reoding locr or opinion. This lesson rells you
how ro disringuish whor someone |nows lor cerroin lrom whor
someone 6elieves.
W
hat`s the diffeience between fact and opinion, and what does it mattei, anyway: It matteis a gieat
deal, especially when it comes to ieading compiehension.
Duiing youi life, you`ll be exposed to a wide vaiiety of liteiatuie, ianging fiom analytical aiticles
ctional novels that aiise wholly fiom the authoi`s imagination. Howevei, much of
what you iead will be a mixtuie of facts and the authoi`s opinions. Pait of becoming a ciitical ieadei means ieal-
izing that opinions aie not evidence; foi opinions to be valid, they must be suppoited by cold, haid facts.
Facts aie
things kncwn foi ceitain to have happened.
things kncwn foi ceitain to be tiue.
things kncwn foi ceitain to exist.
ect cn what ycu read, paragraph by paragraph.
-S:xuvi T:siov Coivvincv, English poet (1772-1834)
4
THE DIFFEPENCE
ßETWEEN FACT
AND OPINION
40
~THE DI FFEPENCE ßETWEEN FACT AND OPI NI ON~
Opinions, on the othei hand, aie
things believed to have happened.
things believed to be tiue.
things believed to exist.
As you can see, the key diffeience between fact
and opinion lies in the diffeience between believing
and kncwing. Opinions may be based on facts, but they
aie still what we think, not what we kncw. Opinions aie
debatable; facts aie not.
Reascnable opinions aie those based cn fact, and indeed,
that is what much of wiiting is: the wiitei`s opinion
(an asseition about his oi hei subject) suppoited by
facts oi othei evidence.
Think about the topic sentences you foimed aftei
nished Lesson 2. Peihaps you made an asseition
like this:
c boss.
This sentence is a good topic sentence; it`s an
asseition about the subject, James. And it is also an
opinion. It is, aftei all, debatable; someone could just
as easily take the opposite position and say:
James is a teiiible boss.
This is anothei good topic sentence, and it`s
anothei opinion. Now, a good wiitei will show his oi
hei ieadeis that this opinion is valid by suppoiting it
with facts. Foi example:
doing. He lets us leave eaily oi come in late when we
have to take caie of oui childien. He always gives
holiday bonuses. And he offeis tuition ieimbuise-
ment foi any couise, even if it has nothing to do
with oui positions.
Notice how the topic sentence states an opinion,
wheieas the iest of the sentences suppoit that opinion with
facts about how James tieats his employees. That paia-
giaph is much moie effective than something like this:
James is a teiiible boss. I ieally don`t like him. He
just can`t get along with people. And he has stupid
ideas about politics.
Because it`s not just opinion. It`s opinion suppoited by
evidence. The second paiagiaph is all opinion. Eveiy
sentence is debatable; eveiy sentence tells us what the
authoi believes is tiue, but not what is kncwn to be
tiue. The authoi of the second paiagiaph doesn`t pio-
vide any evidence to suppoit why he oi she thinks that
James is such a lousy boss. As a iesult, we`ie not likely
to take his oi hei opinion veiy seiiously.
ist paiagiaph, on the othei hand, the
wiitei offeis conciete evidence foi why he oi she
believes James is a gieat boss. Aftei the initial opinion,
c things James does
ed by othei obseiveis) that make
him a good boss. You may still not agiee that James is
a gieat boss, but at least you can see exactly why this
wiitei thinks so.
41
Practice 2
Now tiy the same exeicise with a complete paiagiaph. Undeiline the facts and use a highlightei oi coloied pen
nd fact and opinion togethei in the same sentence. When you`ve
nished, you can check youi answeis against the maiked passage that follows.
nancially
secuie futuie. Many people invest in stocks and bonds, but I think good old- fashioned
haid-eained money. Stocks and bonds aie often iisky, and it doesn`t make sense
to iisk losing the money you`ve woiked so haid foi. Tiue, iegulai savings accounts
and CDs can`t make you a millionaiie oveinight oi piovide the high ietuins
some stock investments do. But by the same token, savings accounts and CDs aie
fully insuied and piovide steady, secuie inteiest on youi money. That makes a
whole lot of cents.
~THE DI FFEPENCE ßETWEEN FACT AND OPI NI ON~
Distinguisbing Fact
from Opinion
When you iead academic mateiials, veiy often you will
have to distinguish between fact and opinion- between
what the wiitei thinks and how the wiitei suppoits
what he oi she thinks, between what is pioven to be
tiue and what needs to be pioved.
A good test foi whethei something is a fact oi
opinion might be to ask youiself, °Can this state-
ment be debated: Is this known foi ceitain to be
tiue:" If you answei yes to the fiist question, you
have an opinion; if you answei yes to the second, you
have a fact.
Somerimes "locrs" ore incorrecr or s|ewed 6ecouse
rhey were o6roined lrom involid or 6iosed sources.
imporronr ro nore rhe ourhor's credenriols ond his
or her sources. Use rhor inlormorion ro volidore rhe
legirimocy ol rhe "locrs" 6eing presenred.
TIP
Practice 1
Tiy these questions on the following statements. Read
them caiefully, and then wiite F in the blank if the
statement is a fact and O if it is an opinion. The answeis
appeai iight aftei the questions.
1. lm
industiy.
2. The Academy Awaids aie always fun to
watch.
3. lms should win
Academy Awaids.
4. The Academy Awaids aie an annual
event.
5. Best Diiectoi is the most inteiesting
Academy Awaid categoiy.
Answers
1. Fact
2. Opinion
3. Opinion
4. Fact
5. Opinion
42
~THE DI FFEPENCE ßETWEEN FACT AND OPI NI ON~
Answers
How did you do: Was it easy to distinguish between the facts and the opinions: Heie`s what youi maiked - up
passage should look like. The facts aie undeilined and the opinions aie in boldface type.
nancially
secuie futuie. Many people invest in stocks and bonds, but I think good old -
cates of deposit) are the best way
to invest your hard - earned money. Stocks and bonds aie often iisky, and it
doesn't make sense to risk losing the money you've worked so hard for. Tiue,
iegulai savings accounts and CDs can`t make you a millionaiie oveinight oi
piovide the high ietuins some stock investments do. But by the same token,
savings accounts and CDs aie fully insuied and piovide steady, secuie inteiest
on youi money. That makes a whole lot of cents.
Practice 3
To stiengthen youi ability to distinguish between fact
and opinion, tiy this. Take a fact, such as:
FACT: \ednesday is the fcurth day cf the week.
Now, tuin it into an opinion. Make it something
debatable, like this:
OPINION: \ednesday feels like the lcngest day cf the week.
Heie`s anothei example.
FACT: Ycu must be 18 years cld tc vcte in the United
States.
OPINION: The vcting age shculd be lcwered tc 1õ years
cf age.
Tiy these next. Suggested answeis come aftei the
questions.
6. FACT: Healthcare ccsts have risen cver the last
several years.
OPINION:
7. FACT: The 22nd Amendment cf the United States
Ccnstituticn establishes a twc-term limit
fcr the presidency.
OPINION:
8. FACT: Mcre than 58,000 Americans lcst their lives
in the Vietnam \ar.
OPINION:
43
~THE DI FFEPENCE ßETWEEN FACT AND OPI NI ON~
9. FACT: The Mcticn Picture Asscciaticn cf America´s
R (Restricted) rating requires anycne under
17 tc be acccmpanied by a parent cr adult
guardian.
OPINION:
10. FACT: Use cf perfcrmance-enhancing drugs is
strictly prchibited in bcth amateur and
prcfessicnal spcrts.
OPINION:
Answers
Theie aie, of couise, many opinions you could foim
fiom these subjects. Heie aie some possible answeis.
6. Oui goveinment should make healthcaie a highei
piioiity.
Companies should give employees seveial health-
caie piogiams fiom which to choose.
People should stop complaining about health-
caie costs.
7. Piesidents should be allowed to seive foi thiee
teims.
Limiting seivice to two teims makes U.S. piesi-
dents moie effective.
Teim limits aie a veiy bad idea.
8. Ameiican soldieis should not have been sent to
Vietnam.
Oui goveinment did all the iight things concein-
ing the Vietnam Wai.

9. The Motion Pictuie Association of Ameiica
lms.
The Motion Pictuie Association of Ameiica
iatings should be taken seiiously by all paients.
Movie iatings aie useless.
10. Peifoimance-enhancing diugs should be legal.
Competitive spoits would be moie inteiesting
to watch if peifoimance-enhancing diugs weie
legal.
Peifoimance-enhancing diugs aie the woist thing
that evei happened to competitive spoits.
5ummary
The ability to diffeientiate between fact and opinion is
a veiy impoitant skill. Like a detective, you need to
know the diffeience between what people think and
what people kncw, between what people believe to be
tiue and what has been prcven to be tiue. Then you
will be able to see whethei wiiteis suppoit theii opin-
ions, and if they do, how they do it. This will allow you
to judge foi youiself the validity of those opinions.
crion rexr, see| our
ogs,
signoling rhor whor is 6eing presenred os "locr"
mighr ocruolly 6e o holl-rrurh or opinion.
TIP

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