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TOEFL Preparation: Lesson 22 - Personal Property

Target Words 1. acquire 2. assess 3. asset 4. hazardous

5. jointly 6. lease 7. liability 8. proprietor

9. safeguard 10. sole

Definitions and Samples

1. acquire v. To get something, usually something with special value or meaning Bart hoped to acquire the 1898 D Indian Head penny, which would make his collection complete. Usage tips Unlike get, acquire implies that a possession has special value or meaning. Parts of speech acquisition n, acquisitive adj

2. assess v. To estimate the value of something The Barnes building was assessed at $1.3 million, but it can probably sell for much more than that. Parts of speech assessor n, assessment n

3. asset n. A possession that has positive value Usage tips Some examples of assets are real estate, cash, and stock shares. 4. hazardous adj. Dangerous Parents have to be careful not to buy children’s clothes and toys made of hazardous materials. Parts of speech hazard n, hazardously adv

5. jointly adv. Together with one or more other parties In most states, a husband and wife are assumed to own all their possessions jointly. Parts of speech join v, joint n

6. lease v. To rent something for a long time (several months or years)

Some drivers prefer to lease a car rather than buy one. Parts of speech lease n, lessor n, lessee n

7. liability n. Legal responsibility for harming a person or property; a disadvantage Before you go river rafting, you sign a document releasing the trip leaders from liability in case of injury. Henderson is a liability to our work team because he never finishes anything on time. Usage tips In its second meaning, liability is often followed by a to phrase. Parts of speech liable adj

8. proprietor n. Owner, usually of a business or a building The proprietor of Hekman’s Windows is Nels Hekman, grandson of the people who established the factory. Usage tips Very often, proprietor is followed by an of phrase.

Parts of speech proprietary adj

9. safeguard v. To protect A burglar-alarm system safeguards our house when we go away on vacation. Usage tips Safeguard implies continuous protection over a long time.

10. sole adj. Only Many people have wanted to invest in Harry’s publishing business, but he remains the sole owner. Usage tips Sole almost always appears before the noun it modifies. It does not come after a linking verb like be.

Parts of speech solely adv


Find the word that is closest in meaning to each word in the left-hand column. 1. assess (a) dangerous 2. hazardous (b) evaluate

3. jointly (c) protect 4. liability (d) responsibility 5. safeguard (e) together


Circle the word that best completes each sentence.

  1. The building company is trying to (safeguard/acquire) the whole neighborhood so it can put up a mall.

  2. To the average farm family, every child was (an asset/a liability), one more set of hands to gather eggs or plant beans.

  3. Gary’s Cookie Shop has to move because the owner of the building won’t renew the (lease/asset).

  4. The (hazardous/sole) adult influence on Sarah as she grew up was her grandmother.

  5. Some people are born with the disease, but others (acquire/assess) it later in life.

TOEFL Success

Read the passage to review the vocabulary you have learned. Answer the questions that follow.

It is not easy to make a living as the proprietor of apartment buildings. There is a huge initial expense, not only to acquire the properties but to assess the buildings and to remove any hazardous materials like lead-based paint. A landlord also has to buy the best liability insurance available just to safeguard the investment. Otherwise, one tragic accident could wipe out the value of the entire asset. Because of this expense, it’s rare to find a sole individual owning such a property. The risk is more often taken on jointly by a group of investors who then split the profits from the leases.

Bonus Structure— It’s rare is the opposite of “it’s common.

1. What is the main idea of this reading? a. Being a landlord is enjoyable. b. It costs a lot of money to be a landlord. c. Friendships can be destroyed by owning property jointly. d. Income from leases is greater than a landlord’s expenses.

2. Which of the following is not an expense mentioned in the reading? a. property taxes b. insurance c. making the property safe d. buying the building you hope to rent

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