Expansion of Ideas Exercise with Solutions

Sometimes we are required to expand a given statement into a paragraph. A sentence or a proverb or a saying is given, and we are required to enlarge it into a paragraph by the “fuller and more elaborate expression of its meaning,” or by adding suitable illustrations, examples, or details bearing upon the main theme. Such exercise practically amounts to the writing of a short essay on the subject of the original statement. No hard and fast rule can be laid down for the length of the expansion. It must be neither too short nor too long; about a hundred words will do.


Bear the following hints in mind

  1. Read carefully the original statement until its meaning becomes quite clear to you.
  2. If a proverb is given for expansion, explain its full meaning in your own words.
  3. Now try to enlarge it by adding illustrations, examples, proofs, details, etc., until your expansion takes the form of a suitable paragraph.
  4. Add only such details as are relevant to the subject. Do not add anything that does not bear exactly upon the main theme. In an eaexpansion there is no place for either superfluous matter or irrelevant details.
  5. Your expansion should be brief and to the point. It should give one the impression that it is a complete piece of English prose and that nothing essential has been left out.
  6. Revise what you have written. Correct all mistakes in spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Study carefully the following examples of expansion :

Honesty is the Best Policy

We should always be honest in our dealings with other people, because hon­esty is the surest way to success in life. In taking up a dishonest course, we may succeed for the time being, but we shall be found out at last. A dishonest man may build up a great fortune through dishonesty and trickery, but he will never be happy. He will lose all in the long-run. “Ill got, ill spent.” On the other hand, an honest man will enjoy the fruits of his labour. Though he may not be able to make a fortune, he will be happy and peaceful in having a clear conscience.

Prevention is Better than Cure

The meaning of the proverb is that it is always better to prevent illness than to be cured when one is ill. Small-pox is a contagious disease. Vaccination is a great preventive and the disease can be easily prevented if a child is vaccinated. Here prevention is far better than cure. In the same way, it is far better to prevent the outbreak of cholera than to cure it after it has broken out. This saying can be applied to other things also. It is always better to avoid forming a bad habit than to cure it, after it has been formed. How much better it is never to touch a drop of wine than to form the habit of drinking and give it up only after one has totally ruined oneself!

Where There’s a Will There’s a Way

It is a popular saying which means that when we are determined to do a thing, however difficult it may be, we will find a way to do it. All difficulties vanish before a determined will; all obstacles melt away before a strong determi­nation. Patience and perseverance can overcome mountains. Napoleon was once told that it was impossible to cross the Alps. “Then there shall be no Alps!” he said, and a road was made across them. “Impossible,” said he “is a word found in the dictionary of fools.” And so it is; a determination not to give in is the surest condition of success in an undertaking.

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

Just as no moss will gather on a stone which is continually rolling, so a man, who constantly changes his occupation or plan of life, will never succeed in life. A man who never settles down to anything long is a “rolling stone.” Such a person makes little progress in life. To achieve success in business a man must choose a trade and stick to it. He will never succeed if he keeps changing his trade. To rise to the highest position in a profession, a man must stick to his job rather than change it every year. To become a great scholar, one must specialize in one subject rather than change from one subject to another.

Rome was not Built in a Day

The proverb means that no work worth doing can be accomplished either easily or quickly. The city of Rome which became the wonder of the civilized world took many days, many years and even centuries to build. In the same way, all great and brilliant works cannot be achieved in a day. Slow progress must not make us impatient. A young man wants to become a great painter. He thinks a little training will do. He thinks a little practice will make him a perfect painter. But when he finds that it will take him many years before he can become a first-rate painter, he becomes impatient and is discouraged. To him the proverb says : “Be not discouraged; for Rome was not built in a day.”

A Man Is Known by the Company He Keeps

We naturally seek the company of those whose tastes and habits are same as our own. “Birds of a feather flock together.” Fools do not like the company of wise men, and wise men avoid fools. Saints do not relish the company of sinners, and sinners shim the company of saints. The good find little pleasure in the company of the bad. Pleasure-seekers do not make friends with studious scholars. Honest men shun thieves and cheats. We can, therefore, judge a man’s character by the kind of company he keeps. If he is always with bad people, we naturally think he likes such company because he is bad himself. For “lambs do not make friends with wolves, nor doves with hawks.”

Exercise 1: Expand the idea contained in each of the following :

  1. Fortune favours the brave.
  2. They never fail who die for a great cause.
  3. Necessity is the mother of invention.
  4. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
  5. God helps those who help themselves.
  6. A stitch in time saves nine.
  7. Patience and perseverance can overcome mountains.
  8. The crown and glory of life is character.
  9. Forgiveness is nobler than revenge.
  10. Every man is the architect of his own fate.
  11. Life indeed would be dull if there were no difficulties.
  12. Nothing venture, nothing have.
  13. The fruits of labour are sweeter than the gifts of fortune.
  14. If you wish for peace, be prepared for war.
  15. Birds of a feather flock together.
  16. Example is better than precept.
  17. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
  18. To err is human, to forgive divine.
  19. Sweet are the uses of adversity.

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