Context Clues PowerPoint - Montgomery County Schools

Context Clues
Look for the Clues
What does context mean?
A word’s context is the words, phrases, and
sentences that surround it. If you look closely
at the context of an unknown word, you often get
clues about that words meaning.
Look for:
• Synonyms
• Antonyms
• Definitions
• Examples
• Read Surrounding Sentences
• When ALL ELSE FAILS use a Dictionary
Look for Synonyms
Watch for words that repeat the same meaning.
From “Boys Against Girls” by Phyllis Reynolds
Naylor: What does precocious mean?
Just because she was supposed to be
super smart – “precocious,” the grown-ups
called it – didn’t mean he had to like her.
You probably see that super smart and
precocious both mean the same thing. In this
sentence super smart and precocious are
Look for Antonyms
Watch for words with opposite meanings.
Sometimes authors use them to make a point.
From “ Nomi and the Magic Fish” by Judy Sierra:
When Nomi was a little girl, her mother died, and
her father married another woman. This
woman had a daughter called Nomsa. Nomi
was a beautiful, tall child, but Nomsa was very
short and ugly.
The author uses two pair of antonyms to show
that Nomi and Nomsa looked very different
from each other.
Look for Definitions
Watch for definitions defined near a word.
Sometimes you’ll see words and phrases – such as
or, that is, and in other words – with a definition
right after it in parentheses.
From “Census Surprise!” from Junior Scholastic:
What does census mean?
The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census (people
count) every ten years. Since 1960, the
population growth rate had been slowing down.
But no longer.
Notice that the meaning of the word census is
given right after it in parentheses.
Look for Examples
Watch for examples that explain what a word
means. Examples often follow words or phrases,
such as for example, such as, like, and especially.
From “Boys Against Girls” by Phyllis Reynolds
Naylor: What is an abaguchie?
Actually, nobody knew if there was an abaguchie in
Buckman at all, and if there was, just what kind of
creature it was. For several years various people in
Upshur County claimed to have seen a large animal,
something like a cat, lurking around in the shadows,
running along the edge of the woods, or even
crawling about under somebody’s window.
The word abaguchie is unfamiliar, but you soon
learn that it’s a “creature,” “a large animal,
something like a cat.”
Read Surrounding Sentences
Look closely at the sentence containing the word,
as well as the sentences that come before and after
From “The Sultan’s Perfect Tree” by Jane Yolan:
What does blemish mean?
There was a sultan who loved perfection. In his
palace he would allow only the most perfect
things. Each fruit that he ate had to be without
blemish. Each cup that he drank had to be
without flaw.
By reading the whole passage, you learn that
the word blemish means “a flaw”. Something
that is perfect would not have a blemish.
What to do when context clue
strategies don’t help?
Sometimes we still don’t understand the
meaning of a word even after looking for
synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples, and
reading surrounding sentences.
When ALL of these
strategies fail – use a
Give the meaning and the type of context clue
used to find the meaning of the red word(s).
A Vicarious Journey
By Menkeli Kanaa, 2003
I would like to take you on a vicarious trip, a trip
I want you to experience through my
description, to Tanzania. I visited Tanzania with
five other teachers this summer, and I can truly
claim that it was the most memorable summer
I’ve had. I doubt I will ever forget it.
Word: vicarious
Type: Definition
Meaning: experience through
a description, not personal
Word: memorable
Type: Definition
Meaning: never forget; stay
in memory
Give the meaning and the type of context clue
used to find the meaning of the red word(s).
• The old Maasai told us stories that teach
many things about life and death, bravery and
fear, vengeance and forgiveness.
Type: Antonym
Meaning: revenge; punish
• When going to a party you should show your
best decorum by dressing your best, drinking
and eating moderately, and thanking your
host before you leave.
Type: Example
Meaning: using good
Give the meaning and the type of context clue
used to find the meaning of the red word(s).
• Carly is fond of trite, worn-out expressions in
her writing. Her favorite is “You can lead a
horse to water, but you can't make him drink.”
Type: Synonym
Meaning: worn out; overused
• Animals adapt to the environments they live in.
Some animals live in the Arctic where it is very
cold and their fur keeps them warm. Other
animals live in the ocean, or in ponds, streams,
lakes, and rivers. They use gills to breath.
Type: Read Surrounding Sentences or Examples
Meaning: how a living animal changes to survive in their
Give the meaning and the type of context clue
used to find the meaning of the red word(s).
• The snake slithered through the grass. The
grass parted as he hunted.
Type: Read Surrounding Sentence
Meaning: moved; slide from side to side
• Josie received a bauble for Christmas from
her great aunt. This she put with her others, a
pair of imitation earrings, a fake emerald
pendant, and a ring that looked like a ruby.
Type: Example
Meaning: jewelry
Give the meaning and the type of context clue
used to find the meaning of the red word(s).
• I took the tome off the shelf and opened it.
The book will take me a long time to read.
Type: Synonym
Meaning: book
• Joe was reluctant to take on the position of
captain of the basketball team. He was afraid
that the time it would take would hurt his
grades. On the other hand, Billy was eager for
the chance to be captain. He thought that
being captain of the team would make him
very popular in school.
Type: Antonym
Meaning: do not want to do something
For more practice with context clues go to:
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