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Reviewing Paragraphs

Here is a quick review of the items to look for during observation that we have presented in this unit:

  • Repetition of words—Look for words and phrases that repeat.
  • Contrasts—Look for ideas, individuals, and/or items that are contrasted with each other. Look for differences.
  • Comparisons—Look for ideas, individuals, and/or items that are compared with each other. Look also for similarities.
  • Lists—Anytime the text mentions more than two items, identify them as a list.
  • Cause and effect—Look for cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Figures of speech—Identify expressions that convey an image,using words in a sense other than the normal literal sense.
  • Conjunctions—Notice terms that join units, like “and,” “but,” “for.” Note what they are connecting.
  • Verbs—Note whether a verb is past, present, or future; active or passive; and the like.
  • Pronouns—Identify the antecedent for each pronoun.
  • Questions and answers—Note if the text is built on a question-and-answer format.
  • Dialogue—Note if the text includes dialogue. Identify who is speaking and to whom.
  • Means—Note if a sentence indicates that something was done by means of someone/something (answers “how?”). Usually you can insert the phrase “by means of” into the sentence.
  • Purpose/result statements—These are a more specific type of “means,” often telling why. Purpose and result are similar and sometimes indistinguishable. In a purpose statement, you usually can insert the phrase “in order that.” In a result clause, you usually can insert the phrase “so that.”
  • General to specific and specific to general—Find the general statements that are followed by specific examples or applications of the general. Also find specific statements that are summarized by a general one.
  • Conditional clauses—A clause can present the condition by which some action or consequence will result. Often such statements use an “if … then” framework (although in English the “then” is often left out).
  • Actions/roles of God—Identify actions or roles that the text ascribes to God.
  • Actions/roles of people—Identify actions or roles that the text ascribes to people or encourages people to do/be.
  • Emotional terms—Does the passage use terms that have emotional energy, like kinship words (“father,” “son”) or words like “pleading”?
  • Tone of the passage—What is the overall tone of the passage: happy, sad, encouraging, and so on?

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