This article brings to you sample questions for CLAT English Language Section in the UG paper. This section is important because it tests the candidate’s comprehension and application skills since language and interpretation are important in legal education. In this section, you will be provided passages of about 450 words each. These passages will be derived from contemporary or historically significant fiction and non-fiction writing and would be of a standard that a 12th standard student may be able to read in about 5-7 minutes.
Sample Questions for CLAT English Language section
The summer he turned 82, my father lost his stories. He was still vibrant, garrulous, and energetic, and initially, none of us noticed that his anecdotes were getting repetitive, that he was forgetting names and places, that he was confusing times and references. A man of many narratives, we listened to his oft-repeated tales, sometimes with feigned patience and sometimes with visible impatience.
Till the day the stories stopped. The words dried out. The memories disappeared. The change happened so gradually that its final suddenness took us, his immediate family by complete surprise. And when the stories dried up, the energy seemed to drain away from his soul. This loss of energy was immediately and visibly apparent as this was one trait, above all others that characterized my father.
A child of Partition, Baba had left his native Barisal in present-day Bangladesh, on the eve of this momentous event in 1947, at the age of 14. My grandmother, widowed since the birth of my father, her youngest son, decided to leave their sprawling homestead with extensive farming lands and immigrate to the yet-to-be-formed republic of India, along with her four other sons. Thus, family lore tells us, she liquidated some of her assets, packed her immediate family and necessary belongings onto a steamer, and sailed into the teeming, seething city of Calcutta to set up a new life.
A seminal rupture in the subcontinent, Partition had wreaked havoc among countless families, uprooted and flung far and wide without any recourse. Baba often became that recourse – his contribution making a significant difference to families struggling to survive with some degree of dignity. It seemed his experience of early loss and deprivation had in a strangely converse way, endowed him with a generosity of soul that I have yet to encounter in another person.
It was thus shocking to see this extraordinary man with the mind, heart, and soul of a Colossus shorn of his spirit.
In an effort to revive his flagging interest, I urged him to start writing down stories from his life. I bought him a notebook and with great flourish announced his assignment. Stories were my particular stock in trade. I’d nurtured an early passion for storytelling and story writing into a teaching career focused on literacy. I used specific strategies to build a writing habit in my students, centered on the belief that we all have stories to tell. As the children became confident and joyful storytellers, their acquisition of benchmarked literacy skills outstripped that of their peers.
Could I use these same strategies to draw the forgotten stories from Baba? Would these forgotten stories, in turn, help him reconstruct a sense of self?
[Extracted, with edits and revisions, from: “Her father’s memories were slipping away. She made him tell stories so that he could hold on to them”, by Ranu Bhattacharyya, Scroll, 2019.]
1.1 Which of the following most accurately expresses the author’s main idea in the passage?
- As people get older, they tend to lose their memories.
- Asking an old person who is losing their memory to write down stories from their life may help them reconstruct their sense of identity.
- Partition was a very disruptive event in our subcontinent’s history, and we should ensure our grandchildren know about it.
- It can sometimes be tiresome and boring to listen to old people telling the same stories over and over again.
The correct answer is (b) – asking an old person who is losing their memory to write down stories from their life may help them reconstruct their sense of identity. This is apparent from the way in which the author describes how their father was losing his memory, how the author asks him to write down stories from his life, and finally, in the last paragraph of the passage, where the author describes how they wondered if asking their father to write down such stories would help them ‘reconstruct a sense of self’. While the points set out in (a), (c), and (d) may have been discussed in the passage, none of these is the author’s main point, as the idea in option (b) is the one that is discussed at most length and in-depth.
1.2 Why did the author think that asking their father to write down stories would help him?
- Because the author had come across genetics research which indicated that this had helped other people as well.
- Because the author thought that thinking about the past would help their father regain his memory.
- Because the author had seen how their students had benefitted tremendously from similar strategies in their teaching career.
- Because the author had done the same thing in the past and had regained their memory as a result.
The correct answer is (c) – because the author had seen how their students had benefitted tremendously from similar strategies in their teaching career. This is clear from the second to last paragraph of the passage, where the author describes how deploying similar strategies with their students helped the students far outstrip benchmarked literacy skills. Option (b) does not provide an answer to the question at all. Options (a) and (d) are not supported by any information in the passage.
1.3 What does the word ‘garrulous’ as used in the passage mean?
- Quiet and restrained.
- Tall and handsome.
- Moody and reflective.
- Excessively talkative.
The Correct answer is (d) – excessively talkative. This is apparent from how the author describes their father in the first paragraph and talks about his ‘many narratives’ and ‘oft-repeated tales’. Options (a) and (c) are contrary to the author’s description of their father in the portion of the passage where the word ‘garrulous’ is used, and there is nothing in that portion of the passage to support (b) as the correct answer.
1.4 What role did the author’s father play for families uprooted by the Partition?
- He acted as a source of help to them in a difficult situation through his generosity of soul.
- He helped them find lost family members and put them in touch with them.
- He helped them by providing food and medicines when they were in need.
- He told them stories of their homeland since he had such a large store of stories and anecdotes.
The correct answer is (a) – he acted as a source of help to them in a difficult situation through his generosity of soul. This is clear from the fourth paragraph of the passage. There is nothing in the passage to support option (b) or (c) as the correct option. While the author’s father, we are told, had a lot of stories to tell, there is nothing in the passage to indicate he told these stories to families uprooted by the Partition nor that hearing such stories helped them; therefore, (d) cannot be the correct answer.
1.5 Why did the sudden stop in their father’s stories take the author and their family by surprise?
- Because the stop in stories was accompanied by an increase in his analysis of news and current affairs, and the author and their family were very interested in the same things.
- Because one day the author asked their father about the Partition, and he had forgotten that it had ever occurred.
- Because the author wanted to hear more stories about their grandmother, and he refused to talk about her.
- Because the author and their family used to listen to his stories impatiently since he would often repeat them, and had not noticed he was forgetting or confusing some parts of the stories.
The correct answer is (d) – because the author and their family used to listen to his stories impatiently since he would often repeat them, and had not noticed he was forgetting or confusing some parts of the stories. The author explains this in the first paragraph and describes how they were taken by surprise one day when the stories stopped, in the second paragraph. There is no information in the passage to support (a), (b), or (c) as the correct option.
The old woman didn’t like the look or sound of the kid. She scowled at her husband. ‘Where did you pick up this kitten from? Why do we need her?’ When the old man told her she was a goat kid, she picked her up and exclaimed in amazement: ‘Yes, she is a goat kid!’
All night, they went over the story of how the kid had come into their hands.
That same night the old lady gave the goat kid that resembled a kitten a nickname: Poonachi. She once had a cat by the same name. In memory of that beloved cat, this goat kid too was named Poonachi. They had acquired her without spending a penny. Now they had to look after her somehow. Her husband had told her a vague story about meeting a demon who looked like Bakasuran and receiving the kid from him as a gift. She wondered if he could have stolen it from a goatherd. Someone might come looking for it tomorrow. Maybe her husband had told her the story only to cover up his crime?
The old woman was not used to lighting lamps at night. The couple ate their evening meal and went to bed when it was still dusk. That night, though, she took a large earthen lamp and filled it with castor oil extracted the year before. There was no cotton for a wick. She tore off a strip from a discarded loincloth of her husband’s and fashioned it into a wick.
She looked at the kid under the lamplight in that shed as though she were seeing her own child after a long time. There was no bald spot or bruise anywhere on her body. The kid was all black. As she stared at the lamp, her wide-open eyes were starkly visible. There was a trace of fatigue on her face. The old woman thought the kid looked haggard because she had not been fed properly. She must be just a couple of days old. A determination that she must somehow raise this kid to adulthood took root in her heart.
She called the old man to come and see the kid. She looked like a black lump glittering in the lamplight in that pitch-black night. He pulled fondly at her flapping ears and said, ‘Aren’t you lucky to come and live here?’
It had been a long time since there was such pleasant chit-chat between the couple. Because of the kid’s sudden entry into their lives, they ended up talking a while about the old days.
[Extracted, with edits and revisions, from Poonachi, or the Story of a Black Goat, by Perumal Murugan, translated by N. Kalyan Raman, Context, 2018.]
2.1 Why did the old woman doubt her husband’s story about how he had got the kid?
- Because goat kids are only sold in livestock markets.
- Because she thought the story was vague, and that he had actually stolen it from a goatherd.
- Because she did not think Bakasuran was so generous as to gift him a goat kid.
- Because her husband was a habitual thief and regularly stole things from other people.
The correct answer is (b) – because she thought the story was vague, and that he had actually stolen it from a goatherd. Both these points are set out in the third paragraph. There is no information in the passage that would support the claim in option (a); similarly, there is nothing in the passage to indicate that the old woman thought Bakasuran was not generous, neither is there any information in the passage to indicate that her husband was a habitual thief, and so, neither (a), (c), nor (d) are correct.
2.2 Why did the old woman name the goat kid ‘Poonachi’?
- Because the kid made small bleating noises that sounded like ‘Poonachi’.
- Because the kid reminded the old woman of her husband, whose name was also Poonachi.
- Because the old woman had first thought the kid was a kitten, and so she named it after a beloved cat she had once had.
- Because ‘Poonachi’ was the name typically given to goat kids in the area the couple lived in.
The correct answer is (c) – because the old woman had first thought the kid was a kitten, and so she named it after a beloved cat she had once had. This is apparent from the first three sentences of the third paragraph. There is no indication of any noises made by the kid in the passage, and so option (a) cannot be correct. Similarly, there is no indication of the old woman’s husband’s name in the passage, and so, option (b) cannot be correct either. Option (d) cannot be correct since there is no information in the passage about what name was typically given to kids in the area that the old couple lived in.
2.3 What does the word ‘haggard’ as used in the passage mean?
- Dark in color and hard to see.
- Looking exhausted and unwell.
- Direct and outspoken.
- Furry and warm.
The correct answer is (b) – looking exhausted and unwell. This can be inferred from the information set out in the fifth paragraph, which indicates that there was a trace of fatigue on the kid’s face and that the old woman thought the kid looked haggard because she had not been fed properly. Both these pieces of information, that is, that the kid looked fatigued, and had not been fed properly, would support the meaning of ‘haggard’ set out in option (b).
While the passage also discusses how dark the kid is, this discussion is not related to the use of the word ‘haggard’ in any way, and so, option (a) cannot be correct. There is nothing in the passage to indicate that the kid made any sounds, and so option (c) cannot be correct. Neither is there any discussion in the passage about how furry the kid may have been, and so, option (d) cannot be correct.
2.4 Why was the old woman not used to lighting lamps at night?
- Because the couple usually ate their evening meal and slept at dusk.
- Because her daughter used to light the lamps in their household.
- Because the couple was very poor, and could not afford oil for lamps.
- Because the old couple did not usually exchange pleasant chit-chat.
The correct answer is (a) – because the old couple usually ate their evening meal and slept at dusk. This is apparent from the first two lines of the fourth paragraph. There is no mention of the couple’s daughter in the passage, and so, option (b) cannot be correct. Neither option (c) nor option (d) is related to the author’s explanation of why the old woman was not used to lighting lamps at night.
2.5 What can we infer from the passage about why the old couple talked about the old days that night?
- The old couple did not usually like talking with each other and avoided conversation.
- The old couple was very poor and were so tired after working all day that they did not feel like talking.
- The old woman was usually very upset with her husband and thought he was a thief.
- They spoke about the old days because of the kid’s sudden entry into their lives, and the pleasant chit-chat they exchanged about it.
The correct answer is (d) – they spoke about the old days because of the kid’s sudden entry into their lives, and the pleasant chit-chat they exchanged about it. This can be inferred from the last two paragraphs of the passage; the last line of the passage clearly indicates this. Nothing in the passage supports options (a) or (b) as the correct answer. While the third paragraph indicates that the old woman may have suspected her husband had stolen the kid, the author does not relate this to their talking about the old days that night.
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