Context Clues

adapted from Keith Kroth
When we are reading and we come across a
word we don’t know the meaning of, we
can use context clues to help us.
Context clues are words or phrases around
an unknown word that can help a reader
determine the unknown word’s meaning.
While the dictionary can be helpful,
sometimes we don’t need the dictionary –
we can figure it out all on our own.
What this looks like
In today’s Bellwork, were you able to
figure out the words’ meanings? How?
Implied means:
Intermediary means:
Consolidated means:
Frail means:
Types of context clues
There are four types of context
• Definition clues
• Restatement clues
• Compare/Contrast clues
• Inference (Example) clues
Definition clues
A definition clue is when a word’s or
phrase’s meaning is explained
immediately after the word or phrase
is used.
We entered the living room and sat
down on the davenport, or large sofa.
I tried a piece of cake and thought
it was bland, or tasteless.
Restatement clues
• A restatement clue is when a word
or phrase can be replaced by a word
or phrase that we already know.
In order to make the itching stop, I
squeezed some of the liniment out of the
bottle and rubbed it on the rash.
The heist was a failure for the burglars
because they were caught as they tried to
Compare/Contrast clues
• A compare/contrast clue is when a word
or phrase is later compared/contrasted
to something that is the same or opposite
of what our unknown word means.
• Examples:
The youngest boy was very reticent,
and his older brother was quite shy too.
I am very meticulous, but she is
rather reckless.
Inference clues
• An inference (example) clue is when an unknown
word’s or phrase’s meaning can be narrowed down
based on other words or phrases in the sentences
around the word.
The criminal was arrested and sent to the
penitentiary for four years. While there, he could only
leave his cell for a few minutes each day.
That man’s calligraphy is quite horrible. I can
barely read a word he writes; it looks like a child
scribbled everywhere.
Next steps
• After we use context clues to figure out
the meaning of a word, what should we
do to make sure we are correct?
• What if we try to use context clues, but
we still can’t figure out what our word
Can we figure out the meaning of the underlined
words in the following sentences?
1. This diving board is quite pliant, or flexible.
2. Because no one showed up at her birthday party,
my little sister felt forlorn and began to cry.
3. I can’t let you go in there because it is prohibited.
However, I can allow you to go over there instead.
4. The pain was unendurable, and I had to quit the
race to make it stop.
More Practice
5. We tried everything we could, but we could not solve
the problem. It had left us perplexed, and I began to
grow angry because I hate not being able to figure
something out.
6. Her comment was valuable and important, but his was
7. The lesion on my finger was caused when I
accidentally cut myself with a knife while chopping
8. My uncle is quite philanthropic -he enjoys helping
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