Primary English | Shades of Meaning: Search

Happy 2017! I hope you have had a wonderful break and are now all geared up to start the new school year. I know I am looking forward to sharing with you more posts about learning English. Shall we begin?

Take a look at the question below:

Vocabulary MCQ

All the four given options for the question are related to movement, particularly flying.

To glide is to fly by floating on air currents instead of using wings. 
To soar is to rise very quickly to a high level.
To flutter means to make a series of quick delicate movements up and down or from side to side. 
To swoop is to move quickly and easily through the air, especially down from a height in order to attack.

However, the only correct answer is (4) swooped because it is the only one that refers to the eagle flying down to catch its prey with its beak. In order to arrive at the correct answer, you would have used contextual and grammar clues to eliminate the inappropriate answers. In addition, your understanding about the shades of meaning between the four options would have also helped in making the right choice.

Vocabulary | Shades of Meaning

What is ‘shades of meaning’? Let me explain. When we use the thesaurus to find synonyms of a word, we need to be aware that even though these words may have similar meanings, there are still some small differences between them. For instance, happy and thrilled have similar meanings but the word thrilled suggests a much more powerful feeling than the word happy.

As a student, it is important to appreciate the shades of meaning between words because it will help you to be a better writer. It may even help you when you are answering the Vocabulary MCQ section of Paper 2 (like the one shown above).

In each of my post, I will be looking at a word and four synonyms commonly associated with the word. There will also be a simple fill-in-the-blanks exercise to see if you have understood the subtle differences between the different synonyms.

For this week, let’s look at the word ‘search’. To search is to look somewhere carefully in order to find something. Below are four synonyms of search and their accompanying definitions:


Fill in each blank with the appropriate synonym of ‘search’. Each synonym can be used TWICE. You can change the form of the word (e.g. scanned / scanning)

  1. After ____________ the area for almost two hours for her missing dog, Susan began to weep uncontrollably because it was still nowhere to be seen.

  2. You need to ____________ the principal’s approval before proceeding with the project.

  3. My sister ____________ the entire shopping mall for my father’s gift but she was unable to find something that he might like.

  4. The student is ____________ about for a suitable place to revise his work since his own home is too noisy.

  5. The anxious man ____________ the entire room in hopes of seeing his daughter but it was to no avail.

  6. In the early years, many migrants came to this country to ____________ a better life.

  7. Alan ____________ the advertisements yesterday but he still could not find a job.

  8. I was sent to ____________ around for a place to pitch the tent.

Check your answers and understand why by clicking the button below:

Leave a comments below and let me know if this post has been useful for you. Have a great week ahead!

About the Author: Nora is an English Teacher at Lil' but Mighty. She is committed to providing students with a dynamic and nurturing environment in which they can grow and develop. One of her greatest strengths as an educator is instilling a love for the English Language in her students.