Context Clues Explained

What is a Context Clue?

Context clues are clues or hints in a sentence, passage, or paragraph. This is for the understanding of the reader, as they are sometimes not familiar with some words. Learning the meaning of a specific word in a sentence is the easiest and practical way to create a strong vocabulary. As you know that dictionary will not always direct you to the exact meaning in a sentence, thus this context clue thing will help you understand the real explanation of the word.

A reader or listener should rely on the clues inside the sentence and only then the real meaning will be clear to them. You will not get the exact meaning of the word, just as you get from the dictionary, but it will be relevant to the sentence. However, if you are reading a context and most words are unfamiliar to you, the context clues will not be much help. In this case, you have to take help from a dictionary.

context clues
Image by Gerd Altmann 

What are the types of context clues

Learning new words is easier when you get a clue or hint within the sentence you are reading. We understand the meaning of some words based on what has already happened or what is recently happening in the sentence. Context clues to give a meaning to the word can be anything, it can be an explanation, illustration, or definition. These clues can take the form of comparisons, antonyms, synonyms, contrasts, and explanations. Let’s check out the types of context clues below.

Synonym context clues

The usual and the most helpful type of context clues are based on synonyms. If you are unable to understand the meaning of a word, then the easy synonym of it will help you grasp it. For example:

  • It’s a sunny day- warm, idyllic, and a perfect one for a walk in the park
  • This is a conundrum, a mystery that’s hard to solve.
  • He felt remorse or shame for her rude words
  • The crime was egregious; they can never repent for this horrible scandal
  • He keeps humming, for the entire day, and it’s annoying.

Antonym context clues

Other than synonyms sometimes the best way to understand a meaning of a word is through its antonym. The perfect way to understand a sentence is what someone shouldn’t do or something is not right. Thus, conveying the meaning through the antonym of the word will help you understand the context easily. For example:

  • Unlike his shy brother, Mary is gregarious.
  • Avoiding the accident was futile, as it was impossible to stop the incident from happening within the right time.
  • The feral cat was hard to pet, unlike our friendly feline.
  • The landscape painting is picturesque while the other with the old house isn’t good.
  • Elizabeth was virtuous, unlike her conniving and evil brother.
  • Our hot summer days were replaced by the cold wind of fall.

Definition context clues

An antonym or synonym is one way to understand the meaning of a context but if you want a direct definition, you will get that too in contexts. Here you will get the exact definition of the word. For instance:

  • The boss required a weekly inspection, which is a systematic examination of all tools.
  • The handwriting of the doctor was illegible; it was hard to read those scribbles.
  • Johnny knew his future was precarious and it will fall apart.
  • Mary was lethargic; she didn’t want to get out of her bed.
  • The cry of the banshee was now audible, a spirit that calls to the death of a family member.

Explanation context clues

Sometimes people do not seek the exact word but an explanation of the word. If you have to explain the meaning which is hard to give in a single word, then an explanation will help them to understand the meaning of the context. For example:

  • It’s no surprise that he jerked in pain after hitting his hand with a hammer
  • The football team was elated after their selection in the semifinals.
  • He called him a nuisance because he irritated him with his continuous questioning.
  • The eggs are so putrid, a wave of odor came out after we opened the door.
  • The canine has a disposition because she never bites or scratches anyone.

Check out the types of context clues and their examples, and you will get a clear understanding of the term. It will help you write and speak perfectly.

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