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"Other" is the clue: TOEFL sentence insertion question

 Dr. Byrnes' TOEFL Reading Self-study Course: Sample Lecture

Clue word: Other

Grammar with ‘other’ 

‘Other’ means ‘additional’ or ‘different types of.’ As a determiner, ‘other’ can modify uncountable nouns and plural countable nouns: e.g., other music, other people. ‘Other’ cannot modify a singular countable noun by itself. To do that, it needs another determiner in front of it: e.g., 

the other person, my other book. 

As a pronoun, ‘other’ has the plural form, others

I’ll post two photos today, and others tomorrow. 

‘Others’ is often paired with ‘some’: 

Some affirm the reality of  global warming, but others deny it. 

TOEFL sentence insertion questions with ‘other’

Example (hard)

Where would the sentence fit?

Other cats do not.

There are two clues in this sentence. ‘Other’ is one clue. ‘Other’ refers to a person or thing that is different or distinct from the ones already mentioned. Since the sentence says ‘other cats’, we need to look for words similar in meaning to cats. The other clue is ‘do not.’  Since it says in a negative form, we need to find a positive action statement. To combine the two clues, we need to look for a sentence that talks about some cat-type animals doing something. With this, let’s consider options.

  1. Something unusual about lions is that they hunt in groups.

  2. Group hunting is beneficial to lions because it means that much larger prey can be captured by the lions. 

  3. It also means that individual lions expend much less energy during a hunt. D


A says lions (cat-type animals) hunt in groups. So A does fit what we are looking for: some cat-type animals doing something.  So place the target sentence after A and read the whole passage.

Target sentence: other felines do not hunt in groups.

B says the benefit of  group hunting: hunting for a larger prey.

C says another benefit of group hunting: less energy expenditure.

All flow logically, so in front of B is the best option.

Answer: B

Example (medium)

Where would the sentence best fit?

While considerations of political power and ease of administration were decisive in choosing the location of the new capital, the site clearly had other advantages.

  1. Only a city within easy reach of both the Nile valley to the south and the more spread out, difficult terrain to the north could provide the necessary political control that the rulers of early dynastic Egypt (roughly 3000-2600 B.C.) required.

  2. The region of Memphis must have also served as an important node for transport and communications, even before the unification of Egypt. 

  3. The region probably acted as a conduit for much, if not all, of the river-based trade between northern and southern Egypt. D


The target sentence has ‘other advantages’ as clue words. so the sentence following the target sentence must be talking about advantages other than the ones already mentioned. What are the advantages already mentioned? Luckily we can find the answer since the target sentence includes the information: political and administrative advantages. So the target sentence should come after a sentence that talks about political advantage. 

A explains the reason why a city would have been chosen as the capital of early dynastic Egypt: political control. So after A is a good candidate. Let’s place the target sentence here and examine the flow of ideas.

Target sentence: In addition to the political advantage, the city had other advantages.

B says the region must have been the center for transport and communication. That is,  B talks about advantages other  than political ones. So ideas flow naturally. C continues the idea mentioned in B, as it states that the region was the conduit for river based trade.


Example (medium)

Where would the sentence best fit?

Other developments addressed the problems of dry and sandy areas unsuitable for growing China's native crops.

  1. This technological advance took many forms: one was the continual introduction from the south of earlier-ripening varieties of rice, which made possible double-cropping (the production of two harvests per year from one field). 

  2. New crops such as corn (maize) and sweet potatoes as well as peanuts and tobacco were introduced from the Americas. 

  3. Corn and sweet potatoes can be grown on the dry sandy soil. D 


The sentence provides two clues. One is ‘other developments.’ So the sentence preceding the target sentence must be talking about some type of development. The target does not provide any specific information about the development we can look for. The other clue is that the other development relates to farming in dry and sandy areas. So, the sentence that follows the target sentence must talk about some examples that talk about this development. So the target sentence should come after some type of development and before the development relating to farming in dry and sandy areas. With this information, let’s look at the passage.

A talks about one example of the technological development, double-cropping thanks to the introduction of  earlier ripening rice. So A talks about a development, which does not address the problem of dry and sandy areas. So after A is a good candidate for the target sentence. If the following sentence is a development relating to farming in dry and sandy areas, then this is the correct spot. 

B talks about the introduction of new crops, like corn and sweet potato, which can be grown in dry and sandy areas, as stated in C. Since B and C are about the development relating to farming in dry and sandy areas, before B is indeed the correct spot. 


Make sure you understand how to use “other” as a clue. Check whether you got it by solving this question. The correct answer and explanations can be found once you submit your answer.    

Question (easy)

Where would the sentence best fit?

Other important occasions are school graduations and weddings

What do you remember about your life before you were three? 

  1. Few people can remember anything that happened to them in their early years. 

  2. Adults' memories of the next few years also tend to be scanty. 

  3. Most people remember only a few events—usually ones that were meaningful and distinctive, such as being hospitalized or a sibling’s birth. D