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TOEFL Preparation: Lesson 28 - Investigating Crimes

Target Words 1. analyze 2. assail 3. contrary 4. hypothesize

5. impair 6. inference

7. objectively

8. suspicious

9. tolerate 10. versus

Definitions and Samples

1. analyze v. To examine something by looking at its parts Chemists analyzed the white powder and found it to be only a mixture of sugar and salt. Parts of speech analysis n, analyst n

2. assail v. To attack or criticize forcefully With DNA evidence from the crime scene, the defense lawyer assailed the police for falsely arresting his client. Parts of speech assault n, assailant n

3. contrary adj. Opposite Contrary to most studies, Dr. Ito’s work shows the world’s climate is not getting warmer. Usage tips Common phrases are contrary to and on the contrary. 4. hypothesize v. To make a guess, the correctness of which will eventually be investigated systematically. Scientists hypothesize that planets capable of supporting life exist beyond our solar system, but they have not yet seen any. Usage tips Hypothesize is often followed by a that clause.

Parts of speech hypothesis n, hypothetical adj

5. impair v. To make something less effective than usual The snow impaired John’s ability to hear anyone’s footsteps. Usage tips The object of impair is often [someone’s] ability to.

Parts of speech impairment n

6. inference n. A conclusion drawn from evidence Inspector Dowd’s inference that Ms. Miller was South African was based on her accent.

Parts of speech infer v

7. objectively adv. Based on unbiased standards, not on personal opinion

I don’t like Mr. Rowan, but looking objectively at his sales numbers, I saw that he was a very valuable employee.

Parts of speech objective adj

8. suspicious adj. Believing that something is wrong; acting in a way that makes people believe you have done something wrong The neighbors became suspicious of Jim when he bought a big new car and some fancy clothes. Jim’s suspicious purchases made his neighbors think he might be getting money illegally. Parts of speech suspicion n, suspiciously adv

9. tolerate v. To avoid getting upset about something My math teacher tolerates a lot of talking in her class, but my history teacher tells us to be quiet. Parts of speech toleration n, tolerance n, tolerant adj 10. versus prep. Against In the debate, it was pro-war senators versus antiwar senators. Usage tips Versus is often abbreviated as vs. in sports contexts, or simply v. in legal contexts.


Find the word or phrase that is closest in meaning to each word in the left-hand column. 1. assail (a) against 2. contrary (b) guess 3. hypothesize (c) showing differences or opposition 4. impair (d) vigorously attack

5. versus (e) cause problems for TOEFL Prep II

Choose the word that best completes each sentence.

  1. Most police departments have laboratories, where scientists (assail/analyze) evidence according to scientific procedures.

  2. The new police chief would not (tolerate/impair) any joking around in the police station.

  3. Everyone assumed Travis was innocent, despite evidence to the (contrary/suspicious).

  4. A judge who feels unable to think (versus/objectively) about a case should withdraw from it.

  5. The bomb squad was called after a (suspicious/contrary) package was delivered to the governor’s office.

TOEFL Success

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

In 1979, two British farmers reported that, while sitting on a hill, they suddenly saw the crops below flattened in a perfect circle. They inferred that some great force must have come down directly from above to squash the corn and barley. This started a public hysteria about so-called crop circles. The patterns pressed into the crops (not all of them were circles) seemed to have no entry or exit points. Many people hypothesized that only alien spaceships could make such bizarre imprints. Others, including Britain’s police, assailed such wild conclusions. They had a contrary theory: Someone was playing a big hoax. Teams of investigators took samples of the plants and the soil, trying to objectively analyze the crop circles as if they were a crime scene. Public curiosity often impaired the investigators, who had to tolerate busloads of tourists flocking to the circles. The farmers in the area, long suspicious of the police, approached the case as an instance of police versus the people. If the local farmers knew the circles were a hoax, they wouldn’t say so.

Bonus Structure— This refers to the whole situation described in the previous sentence, not to any one noun phrase.

1. According to the article, why did many people think that crop circles were created by alien spaceships?

a. The circles looked like they had been made from above and had no way in or out.

b. The observers in 1979 reported seeing a UFO land and make a crop circle.

c. The plants and soil inside a crop circle contained chemicals not found on Earth.

d. They were in unusual shapes and contained alien symbols.

2. Why does the author mention “a hoax”?

a. because one of the locals admitted playing a trick on his neighbors

b. because most people think that crop circles are evil

c. because police investigators thought crop circles were made by humans as a joke

d. because crop circles are probably made by secret government aircraft

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