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TOEFL Vocabulary: Adjectives

First Syllable Stress: pronounce these vocabulary words by stressing the first syllable.

Ancient: very old, often related to past centuries, though informally used to exaggerate oldness

In ancient times, people had to suffer through many diseases.
Sorry, but your stove is ancient. You really need to buy a new one.

Brilliant: radiating a lot of light, more commonly used to describe high-level intelligence

The stars are brilliant tonight. You can see thousands of them.
That's a brilliant idea. I'm sure everyone will agree.
I'm going to a concert tonight. Everyone says that this pianist is a brilliant musician.

Celebrated: well-known, famous

He's a celebrated mathematician. Everyone in mathematics knows who he is.

Commonplace: very normal, related to normal, everyday things

The professor said that my essay was commonplace. He wants me to try harder.
In southern American states, the use of colorful idioms is commonplace.

Critical: reasonable and unemtional, analytical, often used in a somewhat negative sense

Please don't be too critical of my essay. I wrote it last night between 1am and 4am.
She walked around the museum and looked at all the paintings with a critical eye.

Practice 1: Complete the sentences with the correct word (answers are at the bottom of the page):

1. The ________________ author has published 20 novels and appeared on many talk shows.

2. My husband is worried about seeing his uncle. His uncle is always ________________ and does not acknowledge my husband's accomplishments.

3. I'll introduce you to my account. He's _________________! He helped us save a lot of money last year.

4. Her mother sent her a teapot for Christmas. Only later, she learned it was an ___________________ family heirloom.

5. I know you liked that book, but I thought it was ______________________. I feel as if I have read many other books just like it.

More First Syllable Stress: pronounce these vocabulary words by stressing the first syllable.

Curious: having wonder about something, wanting to know how something works or why something is there

Our two-year old was very curious about the swingset. She did not want to swing, but wanted to watch and observe for a long time.

Delicate: sensitive, fragile, being easy to break, anything with those symbolic qualities

I handled the old, delicate china, and I was very nervous about dropping it.
The president is negotiating with our neighboring country. These are delicate negotiations.

Rigid: very stiff, having stiff quality, inflexible

His mustache was quite rigid. It never moved when he spoke.
Some parents believe in rigid family rules while others are more flexible.

Vital: having life, being very important

Her vital signs were failing. Then the doctors performed surgery.
It is vital that we have a meeting as soon as possible. Our company is at risk.

Wide: having a large mass from side to side, symbolically having a lot of space

Our company invites workers from many countries. Our doors are wide open.

Practice 2: Complete the sentences with the correct word. Answers are at the bottom of the page.

1. She is a ________________ person. She is always having health problems.

2. Please do not be late tomorrow. It is __________________ that you arrive on time.

3. I am very _______________ about your business. How does it work?

4. The new grocery store has ____________ aisles. It is easy to walk through.

5. No one wants to work at that company. Their policies are ______________ and inflexible.

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Answers: Practice 1: 1. celebrated, 2. critical, 3. brilliant, 4. ancient, 5. commonplace
Practice 2: 1. delicate, 2. vital, 3. curious, 4. wide, 5. rigid

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