can you help me in this sentence completion question? These days youngsters are highly _____ ; they show a lot of experience of the world and social situations. The answer is given as wise/cognizant . why it cannot be "mature" ?

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    Where does this question come from? What was the context? Was there a limited number of words to pick from?
    – Joachim
    Mar 19 at 7:26
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    'highly wise'… I don't think so. Possibly a source to avoid. Mar 19 at 8:16
  • "wise" doesn't work well at all - both in terms of the collocation "highly wise" and the meaning of wise doesn't fit "experience of social situations". And cognizant is also a bad fit. (normally one is cognizant of something) I'd suggest "...youngsters are highly sophisticated..." So I'd agree with DoneWithThis. This is a source to avoid.
    – James K
    Mar 19 at 16:10
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    Yes, well, whoever wrote that test doesn't really know English in context for a test. Any of the three can be used by mature is the most likely. [We use: Why can't it be x]
    – Lambie
    Mar 19 at 16:37

1 Answer 1


The word "highly" can mean "extremely; greatly; very much", but it seems to typically apply to certain words and not others. Consider examples from dictionaries:

  • highly amusing
  • highly paid
  • highly seasoned
  • highly recommended

So far, the pattern seems to be "participles". At the same time, ordinary adjectives such as "highly orange" or "highly wise" sound out of place. There is probably more to that analysis. In any case,

  • mature. Yes, it's a good choice. "[quite/fairly/pretty/very] mature".
  • cognizant. Usually cognizant is accompanied by further details: "cognizant of the risks". It's not often used as a plain word "He is cognizant".
  • wise. The meaning matches the sentence. Nevertheless there is something vaguely contradictory about "These days youngsters are wise". Perhaps switching to "wise beyond their years" sounds more eloquent.

To answer your question, "mature" is a fine replacement in that sentence.

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