English Vocabulary Practice: The Necklace

Woman puts on a fancy pearl necklace

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Trying to prepare yourself for your next reading test? Whether you're prepping for the verbal section of the GRE, the reading test of the ACT or SAT, or a typical reading comprehension exam in class, you'll probably have to understand vocabulary words in context. Sure, you'll also find standard questions about finding the main idea, distinguishing the author's purpose, and making inferences, but those can be tricky whereas vocabulary words in context are typically the easier ones to manage if you complete some vocab practice.

Read the passage below and answer the corresponding questions. Teachers, use the printable worksheet for easy sub plans or vocab practice as you see fit.

Practice Reading Excerpt

Adapted from "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant

She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family, their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land.

She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her. The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heart-broken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. She imagined silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee-breeches sleeping in large armchairs, overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. She imagined vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends, men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman's envious longings.

When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-days-old cloth, opposite her husband, who took the cover off the soup-tureen, exclaiming delightedly: "Aha! Scotch broth! What could be better?" she imagined delicate meals, gleaming silver, tapestries peopling the walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests; she imagined delicate food served in marvelous dishes, murmured gallantries, listened to with an inscrutable smile as one trifled with the rosy flesh of trout or wings of asparagus chicken.

She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them. She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after.

She had a rich friend, an old school friend whom she refused to visit because she suffered so keenly when she returned home. She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery.


One evening her husband came home with an exultant air, holding a large envelope in his hand.

"Here's something for you," he said.

Swiftly she tore the paper and drew out a printed card on which were these words:

"The Minister of Education and Madame Ramponneau request the pleasure of the company of Monsieur and Madame Loisel at the Ministry on the evening of Monday, January the 18th."

Instead of being delighted, as her husband hoped, she flung the invitation petulantly across the table, murmuring:

"What do you want me to do with this?"

"Why, darling, I thought you'd be pleased. You never go out, and this is a great occasion. I had tremendous trouble to get it. Everyone wants one; it's very select, and very few go to the clerks. You'll see all the really big people there."

Practice Questions

Answers to the exercise are available online.

1. As it is used at the beginning of paragraph 1, the word blundered most nearly means:
    1. tripped
    2. erred
    3. connived
    4. mistook
    5. careened
2. As it is used in paragraph two, the word mean in the phrase, "from its mean walls" most nearly means:
    1. callous
    2. menial
    3. snide
    4. normal
    5. stingy
3. As it is used near the end of paragraph three, the word gallantries most nearly means:
    1. courageousness
    2. etiquette
    3. chatter
    4. flattery
    5. coquettishness
4. As it is used at the beginning of the dialogue sequence, the word exultant most nearly means:
    1. triumphant
    2. pretentious
    3. exalted
    4. chipper
    5. hilarious
5. As it is used in this phrase, "Everyone wants one; it's very select, and very few go to the clerks" The word select most nearly means:
    1. preferable
    2. eclectic
    3. unique
    4. elite
    5. appropriate
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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "English Vocabulary Practice: The Necklace." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/vocab-practice-2-the-necklace-3211560. Roell, Kelly. (2020, August 28). English Vocabulary Practice: The Necklace. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/vocab-practice-2-the-necklace-3211560 Roell, Kelly. "English Vocabulary Practice: The Necklace." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/vocab-practice-2-the-necklace-3211560 (accessed February 7, 2023).