Context Clues are hints that the
author gives to help define a difficult
or unusual word.
The clue may appear within the same sentence
as the word to which it refers, or it may be in a
preceding or subsequent sentence.
FOUR TYPES OF CONTEXT CLUES:
The verb "to be" is a signal indicating
that the definition of the word may
be in the sentence.
A form of the verb "to be" is located between
the unfamiliar word and its meaning.
1.A carnivore is an animal that
feeds only on meat.
2.A biographer, or one who
writes about people's lives,
is an example of an author.
The word "like" is a signal word
indicating synonym which means
there is a word of similar meaning in
A synonym, or word with the same meaning, is
used in the sentence.
1. The harlequin, like the circus
clown, was a fool who loved to
2. My opponent's argument
is fallacious, misleading – plain
The word "but" is a signal word
indicating antonym which means
there is a word of opposite meaning
in the sentence.
A word or group of words that has the opposite
meaning reveals the meaning of an unknown
1. Jerry is very clumsy, but his
sister Jenny is adroit.
2. Although some men
are loquacious, others hardly
talk at all.
Using examples or illustrations, an author tries
to show what a word means.
A writer may give just one example or several.
Remember that these examples are not
Look for words or phrases like such as, including
or consists of, Colons (:) and dashes (-) can
also signal examples.
1. The river was full of noxious materials such
as cleaning agents from factories
and pesticides from the nearby farms.
2. This third grade was full of precocious children.
One child had learned to read at two and
another could do algebra at age 6.
3. When going to an office party you should show
your best decorum, for example, dress your
best, drink and eat moderately, and be sure to
thank the host before you leave.
I have always lived in cubbyholes. After
moving away from home, my first
apartment was just a cubbyhole in a large
building. It was no more that 8' by 12' and
had a bed in one corner. My second was no
more that a large walk-in closet. My
current one is about 10 feet long by 12 feet
wide, but it at least has two rooms.
Cubbyhole = SMALL
The floors of the restaurant were
extremely scuzzy. They were covered
with spilled grease, crumbs of food,
and cigarette butts.
Scuzzy = DIRTY
The contractor was always
well remunerated for his work. For
example, he received $10,000 for a small
addition to a house and last year he was
received $5,000 for reconstructing a
Remunerated = PAID
The department store carries a
variety of breeches, for example
they carried Levis, Wranglers, and
even some plain unlabeled brands
made of cotton.
Breeches = PANTS / JEANS
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.
Bauble = Jewelries
The girl who used to be
very vociferous doesn't talk
Vociferous = TALKATIVE
He was so parsimonious that he
refused to give his own sons the
few pennies they needed to buy
pencils for school. It truly hurt
him to part with his money.
Parsimonious = STINGY
His pertinacity, or
stubbornness, is the cause of
most of his trouble.
Pertinacity = STUBBORN
Ecclesiastics, such as priests,
ministers, and pastors, should
set models of behavior for their
Ecclesiastics = CLERGY
The girl was churlish – rude,
sullen and absolutely ill-
Churlish = RUDE
Because the conflagration was
aided by wind, it was so
destructive that every building
in the area was completely
burned to the ground.
Conflagration = FIRE