The ex-minister’s real crime, in the eyes of his ___ political friends

The ex-minister’s real crime, in the eyes of his _________ political friends who subsequently abandoned him, was not so much that he was wrong as that he raised questions that must not be raised.

  1. esterwhile
  2. proxy
  3. false
  4. self-styled
  5. onetime
  6. surrogate

Sentence Equivalence Questions: Because finding ONE word for the blank just wasn’t tedious enough! If you’re studying for the GRE, sentence equivalence questions can be a bit tricky, and maybe you have some questions about the second Verbal section of PowerPrep test 1. Don’t worry! PrepScholar is here to help walk you through it.

First, let’s start by scanning our question for any clues as to how our blank relates to the rest of the sentence. Our blank should describe the ex-minister’s “political friends.” While our sentence may seem to have plenty of information, only this middle part of the sentence (between commas) tells us about his friends. The rest of the sentence tells us about the minister’s “real crime,” and we can’t assume anything about his political friends based on what the sentence says about his “real crime.” So all we really know about these friends is that they “subsequently abandoned him.”

Predicting an answer to a sentence equivalence question can sometimes be a little bit more difficult because the test makers don’t have to give us quite as many clues. In other words, since we have to have two answers that complete the sentence in the same way, the test makers can leave our blank open to a little more interpretation. Still, we should do our best to make some sort of prediction. Here, we might guess that the sentence describes them as “fair-weather” friends, or something similar that conveys that they are not especially loyal friends. Let’s see what our answers have to offer.


Why does the GRE love words that sound like they haven’t been used since Charles Dickens got paid by the word to write serials?! If we aren’t sure about this word, let’s leave it for now and check the other answers.



“Proxy” usually a noun, so, strike one. But also a “proxy” is an agent acting on someone’s behalf, so used as an adjective for “friends” it might describe political friends that the ex-minister has authorized to speak for him. While this could theoretically make sense, we don’t have any support for this interpretation in our sentence, so we can eliminate B.



Hmm. This could maybe work, though “false friends” and “disloyal” or “fair-weather” friends are slightly different. “False political friends” is a little more extreme and would imply that they were never truly the ex-minister’s ally to begin with. Still, this is a valid interpretation, so we’ll have to keep C. But we’d need an answer that gives the sentence the exact same meaning in order for C to be correct.



No, this answer doesn’t mean his political friends did their own hair and makeup. “Self-styled” describes how someone would view or describe themselves—in other words, the man’s “self-proclaimed political friends.” This answer, like B, could theoretically make some sense, but just isn’t well-supported by our sentence. In other words, we can’t assume that the sentence intends to stress that the friends who abandoned him are the very same ones who before would have described themselves as his “political friends.” We can eliminate D.



Aha! While it’s not exactly what we predicted, we know for a fact that “one-time” is both true and supported by our sentence: if they were his friends and then they abandoned him, they would definitely be one-time or former friends. We should keep E.



As a noun, “surrogate” is a synonym of “proxy,” and the same is true as adjectives. B and F create a pair that would affect the sentence in the same way, but ultimately aren’t supported by the information that we’re given. We can eliminate F for the same reasons as B.

Ok, we’ll we’ve eliminated most of our answers. We weren’t sure about A, C could work but didn’t seem to match perfectly, and E works for sure. We know that C and E would give the sentence different meanings, so at this point our best bet is perhaps to guess A and E.

Indeed, if we’re familiar with German, we’ll know that “erst” means “first,” and the word “while” can definitely relate to “time.” In fact, “erstwhile” is a synonym of “one-time.” Let’s plug these answers in.

“The ex-minister’s real crime, in the eyes of his erstwhile / one-time political friends who subsequently abandoned him, was not so much that he was wrong as that he raised questions that must not be raised.”

Yup, these two words make sense in the context of our sentence and give the sentence the same meaning. A and E are correct.


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