Tricky Vocabulary Questions: Part #1

Q: The ____ cheered for their favourite team at the stadium.

A) audience
B) witnesses
C) onlookers
D) spectators

The trickiest part about vocabulary questions is this – sometimes, all 4 options could look like the right answer (as if the component is difficult enough!). In this case, all 4 options point to people who are on the sidelines, watching something unfold. How then do we determine the right answer?


The principle: Look at the context and choose the best fit.

💡 Bonus pro tip:

Sometimes, you can guess the meaning of the word by its prefix / suffix / root word!

A) Audience

‘Audience’ comes from the root word ‘Aud’ which means to hear (that’s where you get the words audio / audible). Hence, we usually use this word to refer to people at  concerts, plays, films etc, where the focus of the event is on listening.

B) witnesses

Usually used to refer to people who watch something happen, especially a crime or accident

C) Spectators

From the root word ‘Spec’, which means to look at, these are people who watch the event (especially a sports activity) without participating.

D) Onlookers

As its name suggest, these are people who look on (without participating). While it pretty much has the same meaning as ‘spectators’, option (C) would be the most appropriate choice because it is usually used in the context of sports events.

Bearing this principle in mind, try out this question:

Q: Scientists have been enamoured with studying this animal.

A) fascinated
B) smittened
C) attracted
D) infatuated

The root word for enamoured is the word ‘amor’ which means to love.❤️

So is the answer (B), (C) or (D)???


The answer: (A) - fascinated.


Say whaaaaat? 😱

While it is true that being enamoured is synonymous with being smittened with / attracted to / infatuated with something, if we look at the context we know that scientists are not literally in love with the animal. They are fascinated with it are interested to study it!

So the next time you tackle a vocabulary question, remember this – context is key!


Watch this space for more English exam tips and hacks on Grammar, Synthesis, Creative Writing and many more!