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English Comprehension and précis-Writing

Updated on November 7, 2014

A. – COMPREHENSION : (Answering Questions)

It is important for all of us to form good reading habits. Reading should not mean only the ability to pronounce the printed words. Nor should we be satisfied with getting a general and vague impression about the things we read. We should aim at a complete understanding of all that we read. This kind of reading is possible only when we pay full attention to every word and every sentence. This is, no doubt, hard work, but it will, in time, give us command over a large number of words and sufficient knowledge of the structures and patterns of English language. It is a useful habit to ask yourself after reading a paragraph or a page, “What is it all about? What are the main ideas?” Then try to answer the question without referring to the passage. If you are able to remember what you have read, you are a good reader. If you cannot, try again, read the paragraph once again slowly and carefully and ask yourself the same questions. Make it a regular habit and you will become a good reader.

Exercises in comprehension are meant to test whether the student has acquired the ability to understand what he reads. He is asked to read a paragraph and answer question relating various parts of the paragraph. He may also be asked to make a precis of the whole.

You should read the given paragraph slowly and carefully taking in its meaning. Before going on to the question, you should satisfy yourself that you have understood the complete meaning of the paragraph. Then you should read the questions and understand their nature and scope. After this you should once again read the paragraph and mark those of its parts which contain answers to the questions. Now you are ready to write your answers.

You should not copy sentences from the paragraph. Your answers should be in your own words. They should be clear, simple and to the point. Answers should be in complete, correct sentences and not in ‘yes’ or ‘no’ except when you are specifically asked to do so.

B. – PRECIS – Writing

A story-teller, a novelist or an essayist writes because he wishes to say something. He wants to impress and influences his readers. He wants to arouse their feelings or change their opinions. Therefore, he writes in a style that will help his purpose. He uses similes and metaphors. He gives arguments and examples. He repeats his ideas again and again in different words and phrases.

A student writing a précis, on the other hand, is not interested in anything but writing in a clear and simple language the essential points of the passage assigned to him. He reproduces only the main ideas contained in the passage. He ignores those parts which are explanatory or decorative. He writes his précis in a few words as are necessary to state the central theme.

Precis-writing is not a difficult art. Whenever we ask or answer a question in a simple and straight manner, we are practicing the art of précis making. Whenever we understand the meaning of what we read or hear without being confused by the beauties of style, we are doing an exercise in précis making.

Precis-writing is a test in comprehension. If you understand the meaning of the sentences as well as the whole passage, you will be able to write a good précis. You cannot, however, make a précis of what you do not understand. You should, therefore, work hard and acquire command over the vocabulary and structures used in your textbooks. It will enable you to understand simple modern prose in Standard English.

Important Points

Here are certain suggestions that will help you write a good precis:

  1. Read the passage carefully and think of a title that tells what the passage is about. It will help you keep to the point while writing the precis.
  2. Read through the passage once again and mark those parts of the passage which express the main ideas. Then write a phrase or a sentence to sum up each of these ideas.
  3. Read the passage again to see if the phrases and sentences you have written really sum up the passage. Make corrections if necessary.
  4. Now writes your precis using the phrases and sentences you have already written.
  5. Read your draft and mark those phrases and clauses which can be replaced by single words or short phrases without loss of meaning. Also make sure that you have not repeated any idea.
  6. Make sure that your précis does not exceed the prescribed length. If you are not told the length, it should be one-third of the original passage.
  7. Now write the final draft. It should be in your own words as far as possible. However, certain words from the original passage cannot be replaced.
  8. The precis of a letter or a speech should usually be written in Indirect Narration.
  9. The precis should preferably be in the third person. Even when the passage uses pronouns of first person, your precis should begin with words like, “The speaker says’, “The writer states’, “The author expresses’.
  10. The precis should not contain anything that is not stated in the original passage. Do not express your opinion in the precis.


These all above 10 points are too much important for a write. When write follow these all 10 points and start writing about any topic. His or her readers will enjoy to read his or her articles. Sometimes writer or authors think that, their readers are foolish. What we write they will accept it and follow it, but as i think we are living in 21 century. So write something useful and just start thinking that you are foolish and your readers are too much know about your topic about which you are going to write, it's mean that start writing carefully about your selected topics.

When your readers enjoy your paragraphs, its mean that they are understanding your words. As in my previous articles i defined it very well try to write your paragraphs in simple and correct English. Which mean that try to don't do any grammatical error or mistake.


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