How to solve Syllogism Questions for CAT

Syllogisms can be often confusing to solve. Some students even find it difficult to understand the concept behind syllogisms. This article, created by our Cat coaching Kolkata, will not only help clarify what a syllogism is but also give you a solid approach to solving any kind of syllogism question.


Syllogisms appear in the DILR (Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning) section of the CAT exam. However, sometimes, they also appear in the test’s VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension) section. These concepts appear as 3-4 questions. Thus, they play an important role in defining your overall percentile. Consequently, a student must understand this topic well to score well.

Many students do not know what syllogism is or how to answer questions related to it. This article serves as a guide for all of your doubts related to CAT-level syllogism.

What are Syllogisms?

Syllogism is a word of Greek origin that means conclusion, conjecture, or inference. In the logical reasoning domain, Syllogism means a proposed argument. This argument is supported by two propositions. One proposition is the predicate of the conclusion, while the other is the subject of the conclusion. This conclusion is apparently drawn from the proposed argument, i.e., Syllogism. This, of course, sounds too confusing, doesn’t it?

Let’s understand what is what first. So, what exactly is a proposition?

A proposition is a statement that establishes a relation between two terms. Furthermore, this proposition has three components in its statement: subject, predicate, and relation.

Let’s take an example to understand this better.

  • All papers are A4-sized
  • All A4-sized papers are white

In the sentences given above, “papers” and “A4-sized papers” are the subjects of the statements. Meanwhile, the predicates of the statements are “A4-sized” and “white.”

By syllogism’s common definition, the above given example is apt. If you observe the above examples, you’ll notice the following:

  • There’s no direct relation between the first statement’s subject and the second statement’s predicate.
  • However, the predicate of the first statement becomes the subject of the second statement.
  • Both of the statements use the word “All”

The above pattern is typical of syllogisms. Although the word “All” is used in both of the statements, this is not common practice. It mostly depends on the type of the proposition. So, the type in which ‘All’ is used is categorial proposition.

Types of Propositions

CAT- Syllogisms

Categorial Propositions are further classified into two types: Universal proposition and Particular proposition.

1. Universal Proposition: These kinds of propositions either are completely inclusive or exclusive of a category or subject.


  • No Indian uses chopsticks. (negative)
  • All Koreans use chopsticks. (positive)

2. Particular Proposition: These kinds of proposition either partially include or exclude a category or subject.

  • Some mangos are raw. (positive)
  • Not all raw mangos are sour. (negative)
  • Some mangos are not sweet. (negative)

Methods to Solve Syllogisms for CAT

There are two methods to solve syllogisms:

  • The Venn Diagram Method
  • The Analytical Method

The Venn Diagram Method

We all learned the concept of Venn Diagrams as part of set theory during our school days. However, if you still don’t remember them, Venn Diagrams are pictorial representations using circles or closed loops to represent mathematical or logical sets.

So, let’s first look into how Venn Diagrams represent different types of propositions.

Types of Propositions Universal/ Particular Venn Diagram Explanation
Positive 1st type: All Y are Z. Syllogisms The statement says that All Y are Z. Thus, it implies that Y is a subset of Z, a superset.
Positive 2nd type: Some Y are Z. Syllogisms for CAT There are two scenarios here: either Set Y intersects with Set Z or Set Z is a subset of superset Y.
Negative 3rd type : No Y are Z. The statement states that no Y are Z. Therefore, Set of Y and Set of Z do not intersect at all. They remain apart as two separate sets.
Negative 4th type:

Not all Y    are Z;

some Y are   not Z.

Syllogisms for CAT Two scenarios are possible for this condition: either Set of Y and Set of Z intersect, or Set of Z is a subset of the superset of Y

Using the above method, we can come to the following conclusions:

Type of Proposition The type of the proposition in the expectant conclusion
1st type 2nd type 3rd type 4th type
1st type False True False
2nd type False False True
3rd type Not sure False Not sure
4th type False Not sure Not sure

All pencils are erasers

All erasers are latex


a. All latex are pencils

b. All pencils are latex


(a) Only conclusion a is true

(b) Only conclusion b is true

(c) Neither conclusion a nor b is true

(d) both conclusion a and conclusion b are true.


1) Draw two separate Venn Diagrams of the statements.

2) Now, P = pencils and E = Erasers. So, as all pencils are erasers, it implies that P is a subset of Set E.

3) Then, L = latex. As all erasers are latex, E is a subset of  the superset L.

In the end, we should get a figure as such:

On analyzing the final Venn Diagram, we can say that only conclusion b follows. Therefore, the correct option is (b).

The Venn Diagram is practical and helps students avoid conclusions. Using this two-step Venn Diagram, you can easily solve any syllogism question. If you want to know more about this type of question, you can contact us at bellCAT.

The Analytical Method

Q. Some Indians are brown

All Indians are kind.


1) Convert Statements so that the common term in both statements is the proposition’s predicate and the subject of the second statement.

The common term in the above propositions is Indians. So, let’s align Indians as the predicate of the first statement. The table below can be used to convert this.

Type of Proposition Type of the Proposition converted
1st type 3rd type
2nd type 2nd type
3rd type 3rd type
4th type Not possible to convert

So, as the first statement is of type 2, it will be converted into type 2 . The converted statement is “Some browns are Indians”.

After aligning the statements:

Some browns are Indians.

All Indians are Kind.

2) Now, you can use the table below to draw conclusions after the conversion.

No conclusion combinations:
The type of the first proposition The type of the second proposition The conclusion
1st type 3rd type No conclusion
1st type 4th type No conclusion
2nd type 2nd type No conclusion
2nd type 4th type No conclusion
3rd type 3rd type No conclusion
3rd type 4th type No conclusion
4th type 1st type or 2nd type or 3rd type No conclusion


Definite Conclusion Combinations: 
The type of the first proposition The type of the second proposition The conclusion
1st type 1st type 1st type
1st type 2nd type 2nd type
2nd type 1st type 4th type*
3rd type 1st type 3rd type
2nd type 3rd type 4th type*
3rd type 2nd type 4th type*

Note*: The conclusion you get for type-4 when either type-2 and type-1 combine or type-2 or type-3 combine is opposite to the standard format of type-4.

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Anand Roy, the Verbal Magician, assists MBA aspirants in enhancing their verbal prowess, mastering interviews, and finding motivation via interactive lessons filled with practical illustrations. With a wealth of mentoring knowledge and a PGDM from IMI, he guides students to success.

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