TOEFL Tuesday: Vocabulary – True & False Words

Once again this week, I’m going to take three vocabulary words from Official TOEFL iBT Tests Volume 2.

This week, the theme is “true or false.” The three TOEFL vocabulary words below are all related to whether information is truthful.

(to be) Preposterous

If you think something is completely unbelievable—almost stupid because it’s so crazy sounding—then this is a great word to use. “Preposterous” means exactly that!

Say, for example, my friend has just had a baby named Julie. This little girl is only two months old. As is true of most tiny babies, when I see her, she’s sleeping, crying, or just drooling.

Now, imagine I see my friend, and he says “Julie made her first full sentence yesterday!”

I’d look at him and say “Nope. That’s preposterous.” It’s nonsense! There’s no way the two-month old baby is already speaking in sentences.

(to be) Sound

No, I don’t mean the noun—I’m not talking about a noise. The adjective sound has a completely different meaning. It’s almost opposite of “preposterous,” in a way, but it is used for ideas, arguments, and theories, not stories (like the story about the baby). If an idea is sound, it makes logical sense. There are no problems with it, so I believe it’s probably true.

Say, for example, you want to tell me that American universities are too expensive. It’s definitely true that they are expensive, so unsurprisingly, you could create a sound argument for why they should be less expensive, using clear facts and data that support your idea.

(to be) Revealing

Again, this word is not what it looks like! I don’t mean the verb “reveal,” even though this looks like the present continuous form of that verb (for example, “the clouds are floating away and revealing the top of the mountain.”)

I’m talking about the adjective, instead. In that form, this word means that some information logically gives you other interesting information.

Say, for example, a company called Bastion Inc. makes jeans. And imagine that people who buy Bastion jeans often ask for refunds—maybe 50% of people ask for their money back. That’s interesting information, because it tells you something else: Bastion probably makes low-quality jeans! The number of refunds is revealing. It shows you information that’s true but was unknown before.

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  • Lucas Fink

    Lucas is the teacher behind Magoosh TOEFL. He’s been teaching TOEFL preparation and more general English since 2009, and the SAT since 2008. Between his time at Bard College and teaching abroad, he has studied Japanese, Czech, and Korean. None of them come in handy, nowadays.

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