Verbal Expression Review for Firefighter Exam Study Guide (page 3)
Your communication skills may be tested in another way, by seeing how well you can express a given idea orally or in writing. You may be asked to read two or more versions of the same information and then choose the one that most clearly and accurately presents the given information, the best option. The best option should be:
- grammatically correct
Imagine this situation:
It is 2:30 on Tuesday, August 22. You are driving Vehicle #25, heading west on NW 91st Street. Your coworker Alex Thorp is riding on the platform at the back of the truck. Just as you round the corner to head north on Park Place, he loses his grip and falls from the truck. You stop immediately to see if he is hurt. He says he's fine, but about an hour later his wrist hurts badly enough that he asks you to take him to the hospital. You go to the Mercy Medical Center. The doctor who examines him says the wrist is mildly fractured.
The information above can be expressed accurately or inaccurately, clearly or unclearly, logically or illogically, grammatically or ungrammatically. The following examples will show you how this works.
Check the facts for accuracy first. If the facts are wrong or confused in a particular answer choice, that choice is wrong, no matter how well written it is.
Alex Thorp was in #25 on NE 91st when he fell off onto Park Place because he broke his wrist. I stopped, but he wasn't hurt. Later the doctor said he had a fractured wrist. It was 3:30 on Tuesday, August 22.
Around 2:30 on Tuesday, August 22, Alex Thorp fell from the back platform of #25 while I was turning the corner from the west lane of NW 91st to go north on Park Place. About an hour later he asked to go to the hospital. The doctor said his wrist was fractured.
The best answer is written in plain English in such a way that most readers can understand it the first time through. If you read through an answer choice and then need to reread it to know what it means, look for a better option.
On or about 2:30 on Tuesday, August 22, my coworker Alex Thorp and I were headed westbound on NW 91st Street. As I proceeded around the corner to head northbound on Park Place, he lost his grip and suffered an unknown injury. Later we went to Mercy Medical Center to seek a doctor's attention, who said it was fractured wrist, only mildly.
Around 2:30 on Tuesday, August 22, I was driving Vehicle #25, and Alex Thorp was riding on the back platform. He lost his grip and fell as I rounded a corner from NW 91st west onto Park Place north. He thought he was all right at first, but about an hour later he asked to go to the hospital. The doctor who saw him at Mercy Medical Center said he had a mildly fractured wrist.
The best answer will present information in logical order, usually time order. If the information seems disorganized, look for a better option.
The doctor said Alex's wrist was mildly fractured. It happened when he fell off the back of Vehicle #25. He went to the doctor later at Mercy Medical Center. It didn't hurt at first. He lost his grip. I turned from NW 91st west onto Park Place north. This was Tuesday, August 22, at around 2:30.
Around 2:30 on Tuesday, August 22, Alex Thorp lost his grip while riding on the back platform of Vehicle #25 as I was driving around the corner from NW 91st west onto Park Place north. He didn't realize he was hurt until about an hour later. I took him to Mercy Medical Center where a doctor examined him and said he had a mildly fractured wrist.
In addition to accuracy, clarity, and logic, there are other characteristics of well-written, grammatically correct sentences. The next section points out some common grammar mistakes and tells you how to make the right choices on your exam.
The best answer contains clearly identified pronouns (he, she, him, her, them, etc. ) that match the number of nouns they represent. First, the pronouns should be clearly identified.
Ann Dorr and the supervisor went to the central office, where she made her report.
Ann Dorr and the supervisor went to the central office, where the supervisor made her report.
An answer choice with clearly identified pronouns is a better choice than one with uncertain pronoun references. Sometimes the noun must be repeated to make the meaning clear.
In addition, the pronoun must match the noun it represents. If the noun is singular, the pronoun must be singular. Similarly, if the noun is plural, the pronoun must match.
I stopped the driver to tell them a headlight was burned out.
I stopped the driver to tell him a headlight was burned out.
In the first example, driver is singular but the pronoun them is plural. In the second, the singular pronoun him matches the word it refers to.
The best option is one in which the verb tense is consistent. Look for answer choices that describe the action as though it has already happened, using past tense verbs (mostly -ed forms). The verb tense must remain consistent throughout the passage.
I searched the room and find nothing unusual.
I searched the room and found nothing unusual.
The verbs searched and found are both in the past tense in the second version. In the first version, find, in the present tense, is inconsistent with searched.
It's easy to distinguish present tense from past tense by simply fitting the verb into a sentence.
The important thing to remember about verb tense is to keep it consistent. If a passage begins in the present tense, keep it in the present tense unless there is a specific reason to change—to indicate that some action occurred in the past, for instance. If a passage begins in the past tense, it should remain in the past tense.
Check yourself with these sample questions. Choose the option that uses verb tense correctly. The answers follow after the questions.
- When I cry, I always get what I want.
- When I cry, I always got what I want.
- When I cried, I always got what I want.
- When I cried, I always get what I wanted.
- It all started after I came home and am in my room studying for a big test.
- It all started after I came home and was in my room studying for a big test.
- It all starts after I come home and was in my room studying for a big test.
- It all starts after I came home and am in my room studying for a big test.
- The child became excited, dashes into the house, and slams the door.
- The child becomes excited, dashed into the house, and slammed the door.
- The child becomes excited, dashes into the house, and slammed the door.
- The child became excited, dashed into the house, and slammed the door.
The best option will use words clearly. Watch for unclear modifying words or phrases such as the ones in the next group of sentences. Misplaced and dangling modifiers can be hard to spot because your brain tries to make sense of things as it reads. In the case of misplaced or dangling modifiers, you may make a logical connection that is not present in the words.
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