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English is a Germanic language, that is, it belongs to the same family of languages as German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish and shares a core vocabulary with these languages. However, a very large proportion of words in English derive from Latin, which is the mother language of French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian. 

As a result, English has many synonym pairs, with one from Germanic and one from Latin or French. Usually, if the Germanic synonym is informal or colloquial, the Latin synonym is neutral or more formal. If the Germanic synonym is neutral, the Latin synonym is either also neutral or more formal than the Germanic one. 

This worksheet explores some of these synonyms and aims to familiarise the student with the contexts in which they are used. Each of the sentence pairs has a gap to be filled by either a Germanic or a Latin verb. First, match the synonyms in the table and then fill the gaps. 

apprehend, commence, consume, criminal, crook, domesticate, eat, embrace, empty, end, folk, grab, hug, people, sight, start, tame, terminate, vacant, vision  


1.Thirty ____________________ applied for the ____________________ position of Office Manager.

2. When she opened the door after the burglary an awful ____________________ met her eyes.

3. The announcement came that the day's proceedings would ____________________ an hour late at 10.00.

4. "Come here and give your grandmother a big ____________________ ," she cried. "I haven't seen you for so long."

5. Last year the population of Great Britain ____________________ 10 million tonnes of potatoes. 

6. They said that the game would ____________________ late. 

7. When he arrived at the hall for the meeting it was ____________________ . "Where is everybody?" he thought.

8. Humans long ago realised that it was more advantageous to capture and keep animals in their care than to hunt them. Thus, the first animals were ____________________ .

9. The ____________________ around here are very friendly. You'll like them a lot.

10. The president said that he had a ____________________ of life in a country where everyone would have work and no one would go hungry.

11. "The exam will ____________________ at 4.00," the teacher announced. "Please leave your papers on your tables and leave quietly."

12. After they had signed the peace agreement the two presidents ____________________ each other.

13. "Right, I'm ready, " said Detective Jones. "Let's go and ____________________ these crooks."

14. "Don't ____________________ your food so quickly," Mary's mother said.

15. "When I grow up I want to join the circus and ____________________ lions," said little Jimmy.

16. The police decided to ____________________ the operation when it became evident that they could not ____________________ the ____________________.

© Marc Loewenthal,, 2000-2010