Duolingo Yes/No Vocabulary

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The Duolingo Yes/No vocabulary tasks ask you to determine if words are real, English words or made up words.

There are two types. With the “text” type, you see the written form of the words. In the “audio” type, you hear the words. I will deal with both types in this post.

For each type, you will have between 4 and 7 sets of words. These are computer adaptive, so depending on how well you answer, you will either get a more or less difficult set next time.

Example (Text)

Look at the example below. Which of the words are NOT real, English words.

obey thirsty nonagrate expect oxylate accident
common shine sadly balfour door grow
lannery gummer plate hold mundy pull

As you can see, you are presented with 18 words. 6 of them are not real words.

The NOT real words are:

  • nonagrate
  • oxylate
  • balfour
  • lannery
  • gummer
  • mundy

Example (Audio)

Listen to the words. Which are not real English words?

As you heard, in the audio type questions you hear 9 words. 3 of these are not real words.

The NOT real words are in red.

1. system2. benevolate3. impulse
4. horozone5. attach6. dissolve
7. handkerchief8. vertical9. whitrow

Strategy

The purpose of this question type is to work out how big your vocabulary is. Therefore, the obvious solution is to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. However, there are still some tips and strategies you can employ.

Step 1 - Learn B1 (and B2) Vocabulary

According to Duolingo, the real words for these questions come from B1 vocabulary lists. However, different sources might rate words slightly differently. When you have learnt as much B1 vocabulary as you can find, start looking at B2 vocabulary.

As for the nonsense words, these are invented to look like B1 level words. They are checked to make sure that they are not real (but very rare) words.

Step 2 - Get Better at Spelling

Sometimes the words are just misspellings of other words, or they are spelt very closely to a real word.

If you know there are words you struggle to spell in English, try to improve your spelling of these. You can also find lists of words which are commonly misspelled.

Step 3 - Go for the Obvious Words First

Some of the words should stand out to you as obviously correct or obviously incorrect. Choose the obviously fake words first, while noting which are obviously real.

This way, you will only have a few words left which you are unsure about and need to guess.

Step 4 - Improve Your Listening

The audio yes/no vocabulary questions are likely to be more difficult for you.

If you can, find a native or high level speaker to say some of these words for you so you can practise listening to them. If you can get them to make up some words too, then you can really practise these questions.

If I was going to criticise this test, one of the things I would say is that we rarely hear single words like this. When we do, they can sound different to how we would normally hear them in speech. Be aware that these words may therefore sound different, perhaps with a stronger stress than usual.

Practice

Here are some practice questions. When you have finished, check your answers below.

Text 1

horrible mosquito pregnant halfnastic shore balcony
unlate cathedral carpet recent hike diswell
idest barloon heroine parcel dull spower

Text 2

expeditionlaptopyardfreelmisknownfloat
remolecharrotinitialfoggyactuallycod
blamedegramprorangenarrowwhetherdepth

Audio 1

Audio 2

horriblemosquitopregnanthalfnasticshorebalcony
unlatecathedralcarpetrecenthikediswell
idestbarloonheroineparceldullspower
expedition laptop yard freel misknown float
remole charrot initial foggy actually cod
blame degram prorange narrow whether depth
1. dozen 2. kilomile 3. monument
4. burnter 5. garlic 6. occupation
7. orchestra 8. surlent 9. throat
1. alike2. broccoli3. monder
4. accoil5. forbidden6. canteen
7. publish8. twick9. meanwhile
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