Be a Word Detective

Practice your word detective skills! Look through these useful words connected with detective work. Read the explanations, then put them in the correct categories (in your head, or on a piece of paper. Answers are at the bottom of the page.)

Then fill in the blanks to complete the detective story.

Word Detective Verbs 

3 views of a girl detective

analyze, conclude, deduce, detect, examine, infer, inquire, inspect, investigate, observe 

To inquire is to ask; to detect is to discover something or recognize something new about it. Of the other verbs: 

1. Which 4 are ‘thinking verbs?’ 

2. Which 4 are verbs of observation? (all synonyms) 

Put these related words into their correct categories: 

analysis, analyst, analytic or analytical, conclusion, conclusive, deduction, detection, detective, examination, inference, inquiring, inquiry, inquisitive, inspection, inspector, investigation, investigative, investigator, observant, observation, observer 

Note: inquiry can also be spelled enquiry 


3. People who do these things: 

4. The names (nouns) for what they do: 

5. Related adjectives that describe these activities or people: 

Fill in the blanks below with these words

deductions, detectives, evidence, investigate, investigating, process. 

(You will need to use some of them more than once. Pay attention to singular and plural, and to the parts of speech. They will help you figure out which word can go in each blank.) 

At the scene (location) of a crime, the police and look for that will show who committed it, or when or how it was committed.

follow certain steps to make sure they find all the important . These steps are called a . Often they need to make (guesses based on the they already have) about what happened. Then they more to find out if those were correct.

The scientific method is similar in many ways to the for and solving a crime. Scientists, like , make (in science called hypotheses) about how something works. Then they to collect . They try to prove or disprove their hypothesis. Was their first idea correct?

(The reading in issue #2 of The English Detective shows how the scientific method can resolve a mystery. (It’s about the discovery of antibiotics). 

To learn a little about Sherlock Holmes and practice these (& some related) words more, see Sherlock Holmes and the Vocabulary of Detection. Its vocabulary is a little difficult-- good if you can read English at an intermediate to advanced level. For simpler vocabulary practice, see The Real Sherlock Holmes. (It tells about the doctor that Sherlock was based on.)

Category Answers

1. Thinking verbs: 

analyze, conclude, deduce, and infer 

2. Verbs of observation: 

examine, inspect, investigate, and observe 

3. Nouns involving detection & crime: people 

analyst, detective, inspector, investigator, observer (as well as others not on the list above) 

4. Nouns involving detection & crime: actions & ideas 

analysis, conclusion, deduction, detection, examination, inference, inquiry, inspection, investigation, observation 

5. Related Adjectives 

analytic, analytical, conclusive, inquiring, inquisitive, investigative, observant 

This exercise is also available for classroom use as an inexpensive pdf, along with other useful vocabulary and reading skills practice, in Vocabulary Worksheets.

Home> TOEFL & IELTS Vocabulary >Be a Word Detective.

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