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We first became aware that something unusual was happening when one of the

ship’s officers came up to the Chief Engineer at our table, and spoke to him in a low
voice. The Chief Engineer at once stood up and with a brief excuse, which told us
nothing, left the dining-room. At first we thought that there had been an accident or that
a fire had broken out on board ship, but soon the word went round that a man had been
seen floating in the sea. Then we noticed that the ship had slowed down and was
beginning to turn round with rather a violent motion. Some of the passengers did not
wait to finish their meal, but at once rushed up on deek. Others crowded round the
portholes, making it impossible for us to eat in comfort. There was such confusion in the
dining-room that we decided to join those who had gone up on deck.

There we learnt that one of the crew had seen a man in the sea some distance
from the ship. He had informed the captain, who at once ordered the ship to be turned
round. We were now only two hundred yards or so from the man, and a lifeboat had
already been lowered into the sea. In it there were four sailors, who were sitting ready at
the oars, an officer and the ship’s doctor. The officer shouted an order and the sailors
began to row away from the ship. By looking in the same direction as the boat was
going, we were able to make out the position of the man in the water. He was clining to a
large piece of wood.

At last, after what seemed to us an age, the lifeboat reached the man and two of
the sailors pulled him on board. This was not at all easy, for the sea was rather rough.
Then the sailors began to row back to the ship again. The lifeboat was raised out of the
water and the resued man, wrapped in a blanket, was helped out on to the deck. Leaning
on the arm of the ship’s doctor but still able to walk in spito of his terrible experience, he
was led off to the ship’s hospital. As he passed along the deck, everyone cheered loudly.

1. Answer the following questions briefly, in your own words as far as possible.
Use one complete sentence for each answer.
a. What first made the writer and his friends think that something
unusual was happening?
b. Why did some of the passengers crowd round the portholes?
c. How were the people on deck able to make out where the man in the
water was?
d. How did the man in the water manage to keep afloat?
2. Answer these questions, using only short form answers.
a. Could the writer and his friends hear what the officer said to the Chief
b. Had a fire broken out on board?
c. Had the lifeboat already been lowered into the sea by the time the
writer and his friends came up on deck?
d. Was the rescued man carried to the ship’s hospital?
3. Complete the following sentences. Your answers must be related to the ideas
contained in the passage.
a. Some of the passengers rushed up on deck before ……..
b. The writer and his friends left their table because ……...
c. The captain ordered the ship to be turned round so that ……
d. The sailors in the lifeboat began to row as soon as …….
e. The sea was rather rough, so ……..
4. Explain the meaning of the following words and and phrases as they are used
in the passage: became aware (1); spoke in a low voice (3); or so (17);
clinging to (22); an age (24); raised (27).
5. Composition Imagine that you were the man in the sea. Describe in not more
than 100 words what happened from the time you saw the ship begin to slow
down until you were taken on board. Do not include any ideas which are not
in the passage. Use your own workds as far as possible.

One summer evening I was sitting by the open window, reading a good but rather
frightening mystery story. After a time it became too dark for me to read easily,
so I put my book down and got up to switch on the light. I was just about to draw
the curtains as well when I heard a loud cry of “Help Help”. It seemed to come
from the trees at the end of the garden. I looked out but it was now too dark to
see anything clearly. Almost immediately I heard the cry again. It sounded like a
child, although I could not imagine how anybody could need help in our garden,
unless one of the boys of the neighbourhood had climbed a tree and could not get

I decided, however, that I ought to go out and have a look in the garden,
just in case some one was in trouble. I took the torch which we keep for going
down into the cellar, where there is no electric light, and picked up a strong
walking stick, thinking that this might come in useful, too. Armed with these, I
went out into the garden. Once again I heard the cry. There was no doubt that it
came from the trees at the end of the garden. “Who’s there?” I called out as I
walked, rather nervously, down the path that led to the trees. But therewas no
answer. With the help of my torch I examined the whole of that part of the garden
and the lower branches of the trees. There was no sign of anybody or anything. I
came to the conclusion that someone was playing a rather silly joke on me.

Still feeling rather puzzled. I webt back to the house and put away the
torch and the stick. I had just sat down and begun to Help” , this time from right
behind my shoulder. I dropped my book and jumped up. There, sitting on top of
the mantelpiece, was a large green and red bird. It was a parrot, while I was out
in the garden, the bird must have seen the light in my room and flown in through
the open window.

1. Answer the following questions briefly, in your own workds as far as

possible. Use one complete sentence for each answer.
a. Why did the writer go out into the garden?
b. What did the writer arm himself with before he went out?
c. Why did the writer think that someone was playing a rather
silly joke on him?
d. How many times did the writer hear the cry of “Help Help”?
2. Answer these questions, using only short form answers.
a. Did the writer drawn the curtains?
b. Did the writer use the torch which he took with him into the
c. When the writer called out “Who’s there?” was there any
d. Did the writer find anyone in the garden?
3. Complete the following sentences. Your answers must be related to
the ideas contained in the passage.
a. The writer switched on the light because ……
b. The writer thought: “perhaps one of the boys of the
neighbourhood ……
c. The writer kept a torch in the house in case……, where……….
d. No sooner …….. than he was startled by the cry of “Help
e. If the curtains had been drawn, the parrot…..
4. Explain the meaning of the following words and phrases as they are
used in the passage: neighbourhood (10); in trouble (12); called out
(18); examined (20)’ puzzled (24); startled (26).
5. Composition Imagine that you were a friend of the writer of this
passage. Write one paragraph, of 120 words, to form part of a longer
letter written to a friend, in which you relate the episode of the parrot.
Begin your paragraph: “By the way, I must tell you about a very funny
thing that happened to a friend of mine the other day.” Do not include
any ideas which are not in the passage, Use your own workds as far as

Tom was rather looking forward to his first journey by Tube, as the underground railway
in London is called. He had heard a great deal about it from his friends who had already
been to England. They all advised him not to travel alone the first time. But Tom is the
kind of person who never listens to anyone’s advice. It is not surprising, therefore, that
his first journey by Tube was not a great success.

Tom entered the station shortly after five ‘o’ clock in the afternoon. This is a bad
time to travel in London, both by bus and train, because crowds of people go home from
work at this hour. He had to join a long queue of people who were waiting for tickets.
When at last his turn came, he had some difficulty in making the man understand the
name of the station he wanted to go to. The people in the queue behind him began to
grumble impatiently at the delay. However, he got the right ticket in the end and, by
asking several people the way, he also found the right platform. This was packed tight
with people. He did not manage to get on the first train, but he was able to move nearer
the edge of the platform so as to be in a better position to get on the next one. When this
came in, emerging from the tunnel with a terrifying roar, Tom was swept, forward on to
the train by the rush of people from behind. The doors closed and the train moved off
before he was able to get his breath back. He was unable to see the names of the stations
where the train stops so that he knew exactly where to get off. His station was the sixth
along the line.

When the train reached the sixth station, Tom got off, feeling relieved that his
journey had been so easy. But he was alarmed to see that he had get off a station that he
had never heard of He did not know what to do. He explained his difficulty to a man who
was standing on the platform. With a look of amusement on his face the man told Tom
that he had traveled on a train going in the wrong direction.

1. Answer the following questions briefly, in your own words as far as possible.
Use one complete sentence for each answer.
a. Why does the writer say that Tom’s first journey by Tube was not a
great success?
b. Why did the people in the queue behind Tom begin to grumble?
c. How did Tom know where to get off the train?
d. What made Tom realize that he had got off at the wtong station?
2. Answer these questions, using only short form answers.
a. Do many people in London travel home by Tube?
b. Was Tom able to get his ticket at once?
c. Were there many people on the platform?
d. Did the train make a lot of noise as it came out of the tunnel?
3. Complete the following sentences. Your answers must be related to the ideas
contained in the passage.
a. All Tom’s friends advised him: “…………..”
b. Tom had to ask several people the way in order to ……….
c. Tom was in a better position to get on the second train because …..
d. Tom was in a breath when he got on the train because ………..
e. “………….,” the man on the platform told Tom.
4. Explain the meaning of the following workds and phrases as they are used in
the passage: is called (2); shortly (8); queue (11); grumble (14); emerging
(20); swept (20).
5. Composition Imagine that you were Tom. Write a letter about 100 words long
relating what happened to you the first time you traveled by Tube. Do not
include any ideas which are not in the passage. Use your own words as far as
The Rainbow

Many people think that it was Isaac Newton who gave the
correct explanation for the colours of a rainbow. It is common
knowledge that Newton passed white light through prism and
caught the refracted rays on a screen producing the spectrum. He
showed that white light is made up of seven colours, VIBGYOR.
A Rainbow, it was thought, was a similar thing.

But rain drops do not fall in the shapes of Newton’s prisms.

Moreover, careful observation of different rainbows shows that no
two rainbows have exactly the same colours. In any case, the
colours of a rainbow are never as pure as those produced by a
prism. Then, in Newton’s experiment, the prism was situated
between the light source and the ‘Coloured Spectrum’ appears
from the same side of the observer. But in natural rainbows, the
sun and the rainbow appear on opposite sides of the viewer. And
have you noticed that rainbows are never seen in the east at dawn
or in many circumstances, where there are neither prisms nor
spherical drops as, for example, in oil slicks on the surface of a

All these above reasons show that the explanation of the

rainbow attributed to Newton can not be considered as satisfactory.
This explanation, as we have seen, does not take account of many
characteristics of the common rainbow. There is also the often
seen occurrence of the double rainbow, where a secondary
reversed. Newton’s experiment was certainly not the last word on
the subject. It was not even the first.

The correct or near correct explanation of the rainbow was

given long before Newton, in fact seven centuries ago in the year
1266. In that year Roger Bacon measured the angle between the
rays of the primary bow and the direct rays of the sun showing this
to be invariably about 420. Much earlier than this Aristotle had
conjectured that rainbows might be caused by some kind of
unusual reflection of the sun off the raindrops. But like much of
his other conjectures on the natural world; this was also merely a
speculation which contributed nothing to the development of


• prism : a solid, transparent object made of glass or plastic,

which has many straight sides and angles. It separates light which
passes through it into the colours of the rainbow.
• refraction : when a ray of light or a sound wave
refracts the path it follows bends where it enters water glass for
• spectrum : the range of different colours.
• puddle : a small, shallow pool of water or some liquid, like
puddles of water seen on roads after it has rained.
• attribute(v) : when we attribute a remark to someone we
say that it was said or written by that person.
• conjecture : formation of ideas or opinions from
incomplete or doubtful information.

Comprehension: 1

1. What does the author suggest when he says: “Many people

think it was Isaac Newton who gave the correct explanation for the
colours of the rainbow.”
2. In the sentence ‘raindrops do not fall in the shape of
Newton’s prisms’ the author is
i) making fun of Newton’s explanation of the rainbow.
ii) Making fun of people who believe in the ‘prism’

3. What differences between a prism experiment and a

rainbow are mentioned in the second paragraph?
4. What does the example of oil slick show?
5. Why does the author finally reject the explanation
attributed to Newton?
6. How did Roger Bacon arrive at the correct explanation of
the rainbow?
7. What had Aristotle said about the colours of the rainbow?
8. What does the author say about Aristotle’s explanation?

Comprehension: 2

1. What is generally believed to be the explanation for the

colours of the rainbow?
2. What are the important points of comparison mentioned
about the VIBGYOR and the rainbow?
3. What are the instances of VIBGYOR like colours
mentioned in the passage?
4. The point that the ‘prism’ explanation is not satisfactory is
presented as (a) an argument (b) an illustration (c) a conclusion
5. What are the two explanations of the colours of the rainbow
considered in the passage?
6. What is the correct explanation of the colours of the
7. The author mentions Aristotle’s conjecture as
a. a supporting point to the correct explanation.
b. A point against correct explanation.
c. A supporting point to the ‘prism’ explanation.
d. A point irrelevant to the correct explanation.

Answers to Questions in Comprehension 1

1. In this remark the author is saying that people who think

that Newton gave the correct explanation for the colours of the
rainbow are wrong.
2. (ii) Making fun of people who believe in the ‘prism’
3. The colours of the rainbow are never as pure as those
produce by passing light through a prism. The position of the
observer is very different in these two cases while in the prism
experiment the light source and the colour spectrum are both in
front of the observer, in natural rainbows the sun and the rain are
on the opposite sides of the viewer.
4. The example of the oil slicks on the surface of a pudle
shows that colour spectrums are seen even where prism or prism
like objects are not present.
5. The explanation attributed to Newton is finally rejected by
eh author because it does not explain the occurrence of colour
spectrums in all aspects and all circumstances.
6. Roger Bacon arrived at the correct explanation of the
colours of the rainbow by measuring the angle between the rays of
the primary bow and the direct rays of the sun. He found out that
this angle was always about 420 .
7. Aristotle had said that rainbows might be caused by some
kind of unusual reflection of the sun off the raindrops.
8. The author says that Aristotle’s explanation was a mere
speculation like his other conjectures on the natural world. He also
says that this explanation did not contribute in any way to the
development of science.

Answers to Questions in Comprehension 2

1. It is generally believed that Newton’s prism experiment in

which the colour spectrum VIBGYOR is obtained from ordinary
light is the explanation for the colours of the rainbow also.
2. The colour spectrum found in VIBGYOR shows colours in
a clear and pure form, while rainbow colours are not so clear and
pure. The position of the observer and relation to the colour
spectrum and the sources of light differ. Sometimes we see a
double rainbow while no such thing happens in the case of
3. The rainbow, the colour spectrum got by passing light
through a prism, and the colour spectrum seen in oil slicks on the
surface of a puddle.
4. ( c) a conclusion.
5. Newton’s ‘prism’ explanation, Roger Bacon’s explanation
and Aristotle’s explanation are the three explanations considered in
the passage.
6. The correct explanation of the rainbow colours was given
by Roger Bacon when he measured the angle between the primary
bow and the direct rays of the sun. He found that this angle was
always about 420 .
7. ( d) A point irrelevant to the correct explanation.

Courtesy Karnataka State Open University.


When we are travelling along in a ship or an aeroplane at night or in

fog, we are much happier if we know that the captain of the ship, or the
pilot of the plane, knows where rocks or mountains are, so that he can
keep away from them. Until the second world war travelers could never
have this feeling of safety, because there was no way of “seeing”
dangers through, fog and cloud. But now there is “Radar”, a wonderful
wartime invention, which has saved the lives of many thousands, both in
war and peace.

Radar is not too difficult a thing for the ordinary man in the street to
understand. All of us have heard echoes: we speak in large hall or
before a wall of rock, our voices come back to us, echoed by the hard
substance which they hit, just as light is reflected by mirror or a ball is
thrown back by the wall it has hit. Scientists know the speed at which
sound travels, so they can measure the distance of a wall of rock by
making a loud sound and seeing how long it takes to reach the wall and
return to the place from which it started. For example, at the same time
as noise is made a special watch, which can measure time very
accurately, is started. As soon as the echo comes back, the watch is
stopped, and it is found that the sound has taken 20 secs. to go and
return. We know that the speed of sound is about one mile in five
seconds. So we know that the noise of our car horn has covered four
miles, two miles from us to the rock and two from the rock back to us.
The rock, then, must be two miles away.
But sound travels too slowly and cannot go far enough to be useful over
long distances or when something is moving very fast. It is therefore no
use to an aeroplane, or to a ship which wants to discover a small enemy
10 miles away.

Now, it has been known for many years that wireless waves travel at
very great speed: it takes them less than four secs. to go from the earth to
the moon and back. But the difficult thing is to measure the time they
take to go a certain distance. If they take less then two secs. to reach the
moon, you can imagine that you would not be able to measure (with a
watch or a clock) how long they take to go from a ship to the shore, or
from an aeroplane to a mountain near it. Radar was made possible by
the use of a thing called a “cathode ray tube” which can measure
millionth of a second. With this tube, we can “see” things at a great
distance, and it shows us how far away they are, in which direction they
lie, and what movements they are making. On the Radar screen we can
“see” all around us. The captain of ship can find his way between rocks
and other ships, and the soldiers guarding a town can see enemy
aeroplanes hundred of miles away, and follow them as they approach,
perhaps from many different directions at once.

That is Radar, one of the wonders of the modern science, which is

making travel and trade between the nations easier and safe.


1. Give brief answers using one complete sentence for each. Use
your own words as far as possible, but your answer must be based only
on the information in the piece.
(a) If we are traveling in a plane, what does the writer say makes
us much happier?
(b) What examples of different kinds of echoes does a writer
(c) Why cannot sound be used for finding distances from an
(d) Hoe did the “cathode Ray Tube” make radar possible?
(e) What information is radar able to give us?

2. In the example of scientist measuring of a rock, explain exactly

how they found it was two miles away. Do not use more than sixty
3. How can Radar make “travel and trade between the nations
easier and safe”,as the author says it does?
Ancient Pompeii Horrors Frozen in Time

An exhibition shows gruesome casts of the Roman city’s dead.

As the fury of Mount Vesuvius rained down on the ancient city of

Pompeii, a small dog try to save itself by climbing the steadily rising
piles of ash and pumice stones. But the chain attached to its proved to
be its undoing: 12 hrs. later its horrific death was frozen in time by the
very ash and volcanic gas that smothered it.

The twisted body of the dog is just one of the gruesome casts displayed
at Chicago’s Field museum as part of a traveling exhibition that tells the
story of the eruption that destroyed the Roman city in A.D. 79.

The volcanic ash that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum preserved the
towns so perfectly that excavators were even able to find carbonized
loaves of bread in a bakery, offering an unprecedented window into the
daily life of ancient Romans. “We are facing the memory of the people
living there,” Antonio Martusciello, the Italian deputy minister for
culture and heritage and activities said on Tuesday.

While nothing can replicate the experience of walking through the

streets of Pompeii and stepping up into the town’s bars and brothels, the
exhibit displays artefacts too precious to be left where they were found.

A collection of gold snake bracelets describe the fashion of the day.

Delicate glass jars small enough to be slipped in a pocket were used to
hold ointments, cosmetics and medicines. A box of needles, scalpels,
tweezers and probes were used as surgical instruments. Then there are
the everyday household objects. There are stunning frescoes that display
mythological figures, sacred rituals and even a sex worker plying her

Most stunning are the casts of the dead, or “fugitives”. The volcanic ash
hardened as it cooled around its victims. When the bodies decomposed,
they left cavities in the shape of people trapped in their final moments.
Archaeologists – who first began to unearth Pompeii in 1860 – filled the
cavities with plaster or resin to reveal the casts of people bent over in
pain and screaming in agony.

Courtesy – AFP –Newscape The Hindu Thursday Oct10, 2005.

The Brain
Of all the things that distinguish man from the rest of the animal kingdom, the most
important is his brain. Many of the lower animals have no brain at all, or a tiny one, or
one that is poorly developed. For instance, an earthworm has a brain about the size of a
pinhead; a rabbit has a thimble-sized brain. The brain of a man weighs, on the average,
about 1.3kilograms.

By the way, the size of the brain is not the most important thing about it. An elephant has
a bigger brain than man, but it is not as well developed.

The brain has three main divisions: the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the medulla
oblongata. The cerebrum is considered the most important part. It is from here that all our
voluntary actions are controlled.

The cerebrum is also the biggest part of man’s brain, filling most of the space in the
upper and back part of the skull. The cerebrum is divided into equal parts or hemispheres,
and its surface is covered with wrinkles and folds. This surface is composed of gray
matter, made up of cells. The higher the type of animal, the more numerous and deeper
are the folds. Under this surface, called the cortex, there is white matter which is made up
of nerve fibers. Through this part pass the message to and from the cortex.

Certain sections of the cortex control certain body functions, so every part of the cortex is
different. Science can point to certain parts as the controls over sight, or feeling, or
hearing, or movement of certain muscles. That’s why an injury to just one part of the
brain (for instance by a blood clot) can impair one’s capacity to perform a certain
function, such as speech.

The cerebellum is in the back of the skull, beneath the cerebrum. It controls the power of
balancing and the coordination of the muscles. If it is injured, a man may not be able to
walk in a straight line or stand erect.

The medulla oblongata is about the size of the end of the thumb and is found at the end of
the spinal cord. It controls breathing, the beating of the heart, digestion, and many other
activities that seem to go on by themselves. This is where the nerve fibers that go from
the brain to the spinal cord cross. One side of the brain controls the other side of the

1. Mention the three main divisions of the brain and write their
2. Why an injury to just one part of the brain impairs one’s capacity to
3. How can cerebellum injury affect a man?
4. Write a short summary on medulla oblongata.

I.Q. – What is it?

A person’s mental and physical growth usually correspond both types of growth stop
at various ages, depending on the individual. For instance one person may be 1.6
meters tall at the age of 16, and never grow taller. But his brother may continue
growing until he has reached 1.8 meters at the age of 19. Mental growth for most
people sometimes during teens.

If you take all the children born on October 10, 1947, for eg. And examine them
today, they will be different in physical development. Some may tall, some may
average and some short. But they will also suffer in mental development. Some will
be bright and able to learn to new things easily, some will be average, and some will
be very slow in their ability to learn. This difference in mental development may be
considered a difference in mental age.

While we can measure the height of the person, how do we measure mental
development? A series of mental tests have been worked out for this purpose. Here
is how it is done: first we find out which problems can be resolved by children of
various ages. Six-year-olds can do certain problems; eight-year-olds can do others,
and so on.

Now suppose we give the test for six-year-olds to various children. A few four-and –
five-year-old can also do them. On the other hand, there may be children ten or
twelve years old for whom they are too difficult. So now we have a way of
measuring intelligence. If a six-year-old can just do the six-year-old test, he is
average. If a child of four-five can do this test, he is superior. If a ten-year-old can’t
even do the six-year-old test, he is retarded.

The letters “I.Q.” are an abbreviation for “Intelligence Quotient” which is the way of
describing the results of these tests in Mathematical terms. For eg., a six-year-old
child with a mental age of six has an I.Q. of 100. The mental age is divided by the
chronological age (age in yrs.) and then multiplied by 100. If a five-year-old has a
mental age of six, his I.Q. is 120 (six divided by five, times 100). I.Q.’s between 90
and 100 are average; those above 110 are considered superior.

1. What do you mean by I.Q.?

2. Write the calculation for finding one’s I.Q.?
3. What test is given to identify one’s intelligence
4. Use these words in your sentence:-
i. Development
ii. Retarded
iii. Abbreviation
iv. superior

E-notes : Prof. B. N. Balajee, KSOU.

A Word before we begin :

Precis writing has immense value in the modern context. With better printing facilities
and communication boom, there has been an explosion of knowledge and the printed
word. But unfortunately people do not have time to read.

The need arises on many occasions to re-word or reduce the given text to take up less
space. Whether it is a matter of storing information for future use pr fitting an advertisement
into a limited space, precis writing serves a very useful purpose. The ability to say
something briefly is a great advantage as far las saving time is concerned. Carlyle said long
ago that - "a brief and to the point statement is the sincerest and most logical way of

What does Precis mean ?

Precis a word from French means 'Squeeze' or condense. In the English language
the word precis has a special connotation. Strictly speaking it means cutting short. It could
also be the equivalent of precise, exact or definite.

According to the dictionary, 'precis' is a summary or an abstract or an abridged statement.

But actually precis differs from summary in many ways. In a summary the order of the
original passage need not be followed and may contain points which are not relatively
important, whereas in a precis, the order must be usually observed and only the
essentials brought out.

The precis is the gist or the main theme of a passage expressed in as few words as
possible. It is a concise and methodial presentation of the principal facts contained in the
passage. According to Mr Fitch, author of 'Lectures on teaching' a precis is "the
condensation into a few sentences of the main draft and purpose of a letter, an essay or
a formal document. The effort of mind required in seizing upon the salient point among a
number of particulars, in seeing the difference between the most relevant parts of a
statement and in stripping of all the dressing and circumlocution is not only of special value
in the conduct of official business, but is in itself of great value in promoting discernment
and clearness of thought.

Characteristics of a Good Precis ?

A precis (as said earlier) is a good piece of composition presenting ideas logically and
concisely, not deviating from the point of view of the original passage. In fact it is nothing
more than a short history of a case. It must include everything that is essential and
exclude relatively unimportant matters. The effectiveness of a precis depends largely on
reading and understanding the original passage well. Hence it is advisable to read the
passage thoroughly and then attempt to write.
A precis of a narrative passage is always written in reported speech and in the past tense. It
does not include conversation, questions or exclamations. A very important aspect of a
precis is brevity. Brevity is the soul of an ideal precis and so is clarity. The precis must be
a well connected piece and not merely a series of disjointed sentences or a patch work of
words and phrases quoted from the original. A precis must present a faithful picture of the
original passage and not express any other comments or remarks. One of the
prerequisites of a good precis is a thorough knowledge of the English language. It helps
in grasping

quickly the essential points of the passage. It would be well to remember that precis writing
is an intellectual exercise which needs concentrated thought and close attention.

Steps to make a Precis :

Precis writing is a methodical exercise which has to be done in an organized
manner. The following steps would help you make an impressive precis.

1. Read the passage carefully until you master the subject -matter. If you cannot do
this in one reading, read it a second or third time for a thorough comprehension of the
2. When you feel that you have mastered the passage, read it once again and underline
everything that seems relevant or important.
3. It would be useful to number all the underlined points to form the frame work.
4. Note down all the important points that you have underlined to form the frame work.
5. Confine to the statements in the original. Do not omit anything that is important
and do not express your own views and opinions.
6. Write down the main points in your own words. While doing so -
a) Remember to leave out quotations, details which are not relevant and
b) Replace illustrations, examples and statistical data by generalisations.
c) Change flowery and figurative language into simple prose.
d) Omit exclamations and interrogatives. If they are needed, change them into
plain statements.
e) Do not change or correct the facts given in the passage.
7. Write out a simple paragraph as a rough draft. You can even divide the sheet of
paper into 4 or 5 columns which makes counting the words easy. (It also leaves
enough space for correction and/or revision.)
8. As a rule the precis should not exceed one third of the length of the original passage.
Even indefinite articles 'a' and 'an' are counted. Words joined by a hyphen are
counted as one word (Example: job-oriented).
9. A rough draft usually becomes longer than required. Reduce the number of words if
possible. Reducing cannot be done by leaving out important points. It can only be
done by changing the construction of a sentence or a phrase here and there.

10. As a rule a precis should be written in indirect speech. But sometimes a precis of
the passage can best be done in direct speech. In such cases indirect speech
should not be tried.
11. The precis should be in the third person. The pronouns 'I’ ‘You' 'We' 'Me' etc.,
should be changed into 'he' or 'she' 'they' 'him' or 'her' etc. A precis of letters and
speeches should always be in past tense and in third person.
12. A suitable title holds the key to the precis. It is the shortest expression of the contents
of the passage. A one word title may not always be acceptable. Hence it is better to
have a phrase for the title. (Eg: "History repeats itself ; "The role of advertisements";
"The functions of poetry")
If the contents of the passage question an accepted idea or raise a pertinent
question, the title may as well be a question. (Eg: "Is privatisation the answer to India's
economic problems?" "Does democracy work in India?".) Remember that the title
must always be written at the top of the precis.
13. Read the revised draft checking for grammatical errors, spellings, punctuation etc.
The sentences can be corrected if necessary. The completed precis should be in
one paragraph only,
14. Make a fair copy, without forgetting to write the title first. Write the number of
words in the precis at the end.

A good precis is not :

a) a jumble of sentences
b) a mere paraphrase
c) a mixture of summary and a phrase
d) an adaptation of the original
e) a string of quotations from the original
f) A precis should not have any interpolation
g) It should not include comments or criticism

Example 1 :

A stamp is, to many people, just a slip of paper that is needed to post a letter
from one town or country to another. They are unable to understand why we stamp-
collectors find so much pleasure in collecting them. To them it seems a waste of time
and money. But they do not realise that many of those who collect stamps, if they did
not spend their spare time in this way, might spend it less profitably otherwise. We all seek
something to do in our leisure hours. Stamp collecting has no limits and a collection never
has an end, for countries are always printing and issuing new stamps to celebrate great
events. And the fascination of collecting is trying to obtain these stamps before one's
rivals. A stamp itself has a fascination of its own. There is history in a stamp. The
ancient Roman Empire and the Constitution of America, India's Independence and the
Allied victory, are all conveyed to our mind's eye by means of stamps. We see famous
men painters, writers, scientists, soldiers, politicians and famous incidents. Stamps, so small
and minute, can impart knowledge that is vast and important.
Exam ple 2

Trees not only supply us with many of the conveniences of our daily life; they do
much more than that. They support the life of living things. They help to replace the
oxygen that gets used up when living things breathe. The oxygen in the air is
constantly being used up and turned into carbon-dioxide when animals breathe and
things burn. The green leaves of trees absorb the carbon-dioxide from the air, and with
the help of sunlight break it up into carbon and oxygen; the carbon is used to make
starch and oxygen is released into the atmosphere. That is how trees help to replace the
oxygen in the atmosphere. The green cells of leaves are wonderful little laboratories,
where all the starch in the world is produced. Since starch forms an important part of the
food of men and animals, their life depends on the work done by the green cells of
plants. Thus, trees are such great friends of man.

Exam ple 3

There are charms in village life. There is the peasant rising with the morning star
glittering in the sky and turning his bullocks and buffaloes out to graze before sunrise.
After sunrise they are taken to the fields to plough. Watch the peasant's wife milking her
cows or grinding her corn! Hear the lambs bleating, and the birds chirping! How fine
the fields are looking! While the peasant in his fields is working all day in sun or rain,
as if he plays on the lap of Mother Earth, notice the house-wives of the village With
pots on their heads going to the village - wells and thence bring water for their homes,
all walking with slow, steady steps, in groups, talking to one another as they walk,
while the pots stand piled over-head, firm like a column rooted in earth. See too an
evening group of villagers sitting in a temple or shop or village office, and having their
small talks about things in general. It is true that there is great deal to be done for our
villages by way of education, sanitation, and other modern methods of health and

Example – I :

Summary: Many people look upon stamps as only a means of sending letters from one
place to another and stamp-collecting as a waste of time and money. They should
realize that stamp-collecting has a charm of its own and that stamps are a vast
storehouse of knowledge, as they are issued to commemorate important historical
events and characters of different countries.

Title: "Stamps • Storehouses of Knowledge".

Example – 2 :

Summary: Trees have become important in many ways for our daily living. Trees
absorb carbon-dioxide produced by the breathing of animals and give out oxygen, The
oxygen so liberated gets into the atmosphere. The green leaves produce starch which
is very essential as the food of men and animals. Thus, men and animals have become
dependent on trees so much so we cannot imagine life on earth without trees.

Title: "Trees-great friends of m an"

Example – 3 :

Summary :

The village has its own charm. The farmers get up in the morning and busy
themselves attending to their daily work. The rural atmosphere has its own rhythm and a
tempo. When the men are away in the fields the house-wives go to fetch water from the
village wells. In the evening the people sit in a temple or a shop or the village office and
have small talk about various things. But still the lives of the villagers need to be
improved on many counts.

Title: "The life in the Village"

To Sum up

To make a précis of a given passage “writes Collins” is to extract its main points and to express them
as clearly and in as few words as possible. In fact, a précis is just a straightforward statement of the
bare facts without necessary trimmings.” This statement from Collins sums up the most significant
aspects of précis writing, which we have studied in detail in this unit. You can browse through the
points given in the square below and retain them in your memory.

• A careful consideration of the main theme

• Not rejection and deletion but remodeling

• Brevity – but not at the cost of clarity

• Your own language

• Indirect speech ; third person

• No remarks ; no questions, no comments

• One-third of the original

• A Suitable title

• Indicate the number of words