Context Clues

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Information about Context Clues

Published on July 25, 2010

Author: ttravis


Context Clues : Context Clues Look for the Clues What does context mean? : 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 : 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 synonyms. Look for Antonyms : 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 : 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 : 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 : Read Surrounding Sentences Look closely at the sentence containing the word, as well as the sentences that come before and after it.  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? : 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 dictionary. Practice : Practice 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 experience Word: memorable Type: Definition Meaning: never forget; stay in memory Practice : Practice 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. 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: Antonym Meaning: revenge; punish someone Type: Example Meaning: using good manners Practice : Practice 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.” 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: Synonym Meaning: worn out; overused Type: Read Surrounding Sentences or Examples Meaning: how a living animal changes to survive in their environment Practice : Practice 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. 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: Read Surrounding Sentence Meaning: moved; slide from side to side Type: Example Meaning: jewelry Practice : Practice 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. 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: Synonym Meaning: book Type: Antonym Meaning: do not want to do something Practice : Practice For more practice with context clues go to:

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