Use Parts of Speech to Find Answers on the ASVAB

By Angie Papple Johnston

If a Word Knowledge question on the ASVAB asks you to define a word in a sentence, you might be able to weed out one or two incorrect choices just by knowing the parts of speech.

This table lists the eight parts of speech, notes what roles they play in sentences, and gives you some examples.


Practice questions

1. Analogous most nearly means

A. inclusive.

B. danger.

C. write.

D. comparable.

2. Cameron knew that the only viable option was to invest 10 percent of his savings.

A. succeed

B. glowing

C. reasonable

D. life

Answers and explanations

1. The correct answer choice is D.

Of those answer choices, inclusive and comparable are the only adjectives. Danger is a noun, and write is a verb. You can rule out Choices (B) and (C) to make a more educated guess—and improve your chances of answering the question correctly—if you know that the suffix -ous usually refers to adjectives. Choice (D) is correct here; analogous means comparable in certain respects, especially when it clarifies the relationship between two things that are being compared (“The relationship between a drill sergeant and a new recruit is analogous to the relationship between a hungry fish and a worm on a hook”).

2. The correct answer choice is C.

The underlined word, viable, describes Cameron’s option; option is a noun in this sentence, so that makes viable an adjective. Look through the answer choices and figure out what part of speech each word is. Choice (A), succeed, is a verb because it describes an action (the action of succeeding). Choice (B), glowing, is an adjective because it modifies a noun (for example, “the glowing candle”), so that’s a possible answer. Choice (C), reasonable, is also an adjective because it modifies nouns (as in, “That’s a reasonable alternative”), so that’s another option. Choice (D), life, is a noun (and it wouldn’t make any sense in this sentence), so it’s off the table.

Choices (B) and (C) are the most likely of the four to be correct. If you haven’t tried it yet, replace viable with each choice. You’ll see that Choice (C), reasonable, makes the most sense in the sentence.