In our previous articles, we covered Reading Comprehension, Fill in the Blanks and Cloze Test. This week’s topic is: Parajumbles.
Parajumbles, like Reading Comprehension and Cloze Test, appear in the English Language section of most competitive bank and government exams. The following article provides a step-by-step approach to Parajumbles:
What are Parajumbles?
A Parajumble, as the name suggests, is a paragraph with randomly jumbled sentences. Candidates are required to rearrange and straighten out the jumbled sentences and make the paragraph meaningful. Solving Parajumbles is like solving a jigsaw puzzle; you try out different combinations till the full picture emerges.
Types of Parajumbles
1. In some Parajumbles, the candidates are given the introductory or opening sentence of the Parajumble and they’re required to unjumble the remaining sentences.
2. In some, the closing sentence is provided and the candidates are required to use this to rearrange the remaining sentences.
3. In some both the opening and closing (concluding) sentences are given. These are the easiest Parajumbles to solve.
4. In most cases, neither the opening nor the closing sentences are given. The candidate has to figure that out on his/her own. These are the most challenging Parajumbles to solve.
How to approach Parajumbles
Step 1: Read the Parajumble
Give the Parajumble a quick scan to get a ‘feel’ of what the passage is about. Find out the central theme of the Parajumble. Understanding the central theme/dialogue helps determine the flow of the story which goes a long way in helping you piece the paragraph together in the right order.
Step 2: Look for the opening sentence
In a Paragraph, the opening sentence usually introduces a person/place/concept/premise/committee and establishes a scene. Whereas a closing sentence is the one that has a conclusion. Closing sentences/conclusions start with words like ‘therefore’, ‘thus’, ‘hence’, etc. and contain advises/recommendations/suggestions/summaries.
It’s a good idea to find both opening and closing sentences. Once these two are determined, finding the other sentences becomes easy.
a. She was waiting for her train
b. Geeta was at the railway station
c. She was going back home on a vacation
In the above example, clearly, the second option (b) is the introductory/opening sentence. The passage talks about train, railway station, vacation etc. The first sentence must essentially introduce the person who’s catching the train to go on a vacation. Sentences ‘a’ and ‘c’ refer to the person as ‘she’, which is an indication that these aren’t the opening sentences. Therefore, option ‘b’ is the opening sentence; it introduces the person ‘Geeta’ and the place ‘Railway station’.
Hence, the right order of the above example would be: b, a, c.
Step 3: Weave the sentences together
Once you’re done finding the opening (introductory) and closing (concluding) sentences, start weaving the other sentences together based on factors like activities/time/chronology/any other sequence.
Activities: Some Parajumbles talk about activities. Determining the order of the activities will help you solve the question. Start by finding out the initial activity. This will enable you to unfold a sequence that follows the flow of the story, thereby helping you put the sentences in the right sequence.
a. She sells cupcakes throughout the day and returns home at 6 in the evening.
b. She has her dinner at 8 and goes to sleep at 11.
c. Maria has a cupcake business.
d. She makes the cupcakes at home in the morning.
Central theme: Activities of a person who owns a cupcake business.
Sentence ‘c’ is clearly the opening sentence, since it introduces the person ‘Maria’ and her ‘Cupcake business’.
The Parajumble talks about her routine, i.e. from morning to evening. Therefore, sentence ‘d’ comes second as it talks about her morning activity (‘in the morning’ is an indicator).
This is followed by sentence ‘a’, which talks about her activity throughout the day.
The concluding sentence is sentence ‘b’. It talks about Marias activities after coming back home (‘dinner’ and ‘goes to sleep at 11’ are indicators of a conclusion).
Therefore, the right order of the Parajumble is: c, d, a, b.
Abbreviations and full-forms: Some Parajumbles contain a sentence with a full-form and other sentence(s) with its abbreviations. Here the sentence with the full-form comes first, followed by the sentence with the abbreviations. Abbreviations are always introduced with its full-form in preceding sentences.
a. The CPU carries out the instructions given by the computer program.
b. The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is an important part of a computer.
c. CPUs are considered the heart and brains of a computer.
In the above example, sentence ‘a’ and ‘c’ contain the abbreviations ‘CPU’ and sentence ‘b’ contains the full-form of CPU. Therefore, sentence ‘b’ comes before sentence ‘a’ and ‘c’. Right order: b, a, c.
Ideas and examples: Ideas always precede the examples. Some Parajumbles contain ideas, and examples of those ideas. The examples always follow the ideas.
a. Like, the continental shelf, continental slope, abyssal plain and oceanic trenches.
b. The Ocean floor is divided into many parts.
In the above example, sentence ‘a’ contains examples and sentence ‘b’ introduces an idea. Hence sentence ‘b’ comes before sentence ‘a’.
Connectives and Transition words: Connectives and transition words are logical connectors of different sentences. Connectives are words that connect two sentences together. Some examples of connectives are: After, When, Because, Alternatively, Although, Though, Yet, Until, Since, Etc.
Transition words, are words used by the author to shift one idea in a sentence to another (ushering a change). Some examples of transition words are: However, Besides, Nevertheless, etc.
Sentences that start with a connective or a transition word are almost never introductory sentences. They always refer to activities/events/people mentioned/introduced in the preceding sentences.
Articles: The articles ‘The’, ‘A’ and ‘An’ too help in finding out the order of the sentences. ‘The’ is a definite article which is used before something/someone specific or when something/someone has already been introduced in the previous sentences.
Whereas, ‘A’ and ‘An’ articles are used when something is being introduced for the first time and are also used when stating general facts. A sentence containing ‘A’ and ‘An’ could be an introductory sentence.
a. The girl had unusually long hair.
b. There was a girl, living in a tall tower.
c. And the tower was the tallest in town and hidden behind a dense foliage.
In the above example, article ‘A’ is used to introduce the girl and the tower and article ‘The’ is used while mentioning the girl and the tower in options ‘a’ and ‘c’ respectively. Hence, option ‘b’ comes before opening ‘a’ and option ‘c’. Option ‘c’ contains the connective ‘And’ which is used to connect two sentences, hence ‘c’ comes after ‘a’. Right order: b, a, c.
Pronouns: Pronouns (He, she, it, him, her, their, etc.) are used in place of a person/place/thing that has already been introduced in one of the preceding sentences. So, if you find a pronoun in a sentence, it probably isn’t an opening sentence.
a. Ajay is a good singer.
b. He has learnt vocal music for 12 years.
In the above example, option ‘b’ contains the pronoun ‘he’. Whoever ‘he’ is, should essentially be introduced in one of the preceding sentences. Option ‘a’ introduces a person ‘Ajay’, hence, ‘he’ mentioned in option ‘b’ refers to ‘Ajay’. Option ‘a’ comes before option ‘b’.
Adjectives: Sometimes, adjectives can help solve Parajumbles too, especially comparative adjectives like better, worse, taller, shorter, etc.
a. Rahul’s performance was good.
b. Rahul and Ashok danced on the same song.
c. Ashok’s performance was better.
In the above example, the adjectives ‘good’ and ‘better’ are used. ‘Better’ always comes after good (Good -> Better -> Best), hence, the option containing ‘good’ comes before the option containing ‘better. Right order: b, a, c.
Time sequence approach: Sometimes Parajumbles contain a time sequence, i.e., words indicating a time sequence, such as, dates, years, or words like, before, later, after, when, etc. Notice these words and be aware of them, as they can help rearrange the sentences according to the right time sequence.
a. Hemant eats his dinner at 8pm sharp.
b. Post-homework, he is allowed to watch TV for half an hour.
c. After that, he does his homework.
In the above example, the words ‘after’ and ‘post’ denote time sequence. Hence, options ‘c’ and ‘b’ come after option ‘a’. Right order: a, c, b.
Elimination technique: If you’re running out of time, you can use the elimination technique to arrive at the right option quickly. After finding the opening and closing sentences, you can eliminate options which contain the wrong order of the opening and closing sentences.
a. He sells newspapers in the morning.
b. Ramesh is a hardworking person.
c. He takes tuition for primary school children in the evening.
d. He then goes to work as a personal assistant to a businessman.
In the above examples, option ‘b’ is the opening sentence and option ‘c’ is the closing sentence. Therefore, any option that doesn’t contain option ‘b’ in the beginning and option ‘c’ in the end can be eliminated.
Conclusions: Conclusions generally start with words like, thus, therefore, hence, in conclusion, etc. and are usually advises/summaries/recommendations/suggestions. Finding the opening and closing sentences makes it easier to connect them with the other options.
Step 4: Re-read the sentence to ensure continuity
Once you have weaved the sentences in the right order, re-read the passage to make sure that it makes sense grammatically and logically. The right order should have a continuity in the flow of the sentences, and should also make the sentence meaningful.
- If the given sentences are too lengthy, and you’re running out of time, be vigilant and pay attention to keywords like transition words, pronouns, adjectives and articles to solve it quickly.
- Notice sentences in paragraphs of novels and newspapers, notice how they are weaved together and how the words used to connect the sentences and conclude the paragraphs.
- Read a variety of text to prepare yourself for any kind of passage.
- Improve your vocabulary. Learn new words every day and use them in your conversations. Being thorough in grammar and vocabulary will go a long way in helping you solve Parajumbles.
Here’s a sample Parajumble. Try and solve it! (Solutions given at the end)
In the following question, the 1st and last part of the sentence/passage are numbered 1 and 6. Rest of the passage/sentence is split into four parts and named P, Q, R and S. These four parts are not given in the proper order. Read the sentence and find out which of the four combinations is correct.
1. Nalanda became India’s famous centre of education.
P. Ten thousand Buddhist monks used to live there.
Q. It is situated near the town of Bihar Sharif.
R. The ruins of Nalanda can still be seen.
S. It was visited by the Chinese Pilgrim Hiuen Tsang.
6. He stayed there for several years.
- QPSR B. RPSQ C. RQPS D. SPQR
In the above passage the first and last sentences are given. The last sentence has a ‘he’ referring to a certain person who was introduced in one of the preceding sentences. The only sentence with a person being introduced is option ‘S’. Therefore, ‘S’ is the second last sentence.
The only option with option ‘S’ as second last sentence is option ‘C’. You can arrange the given sentences in the order given in option ‘C’ and read it to ensure it sound logically and grammatically correct. Also arrange them in order of other options too and see if any other sentence makes more sense than option ‘C’. The option that makes the paragraph make most sense grammatically and logically, is the right option.
The correct answer is option ‘C’.
We hope the above helps you briefly understand what Parajumbles are.
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