VOCABULARY & CONTEXT
CLUES – YOU BE THE
This section will introduce you to ―context clues‖ which will help you figure
out the meaning of certain words.
• Why do we have a section on vocabulary and context
• As we learned in the last PowerPoint lecture, there is a direct
link between reading comprehension and a reader’s
• To get meaning from what they read, successful readers
need both a great many words in their vocabularies and
the ability to use various strategies to establish the meanings
of new words when they encounter them.
• What do you do when you come across a word that
you do not know the meaning of?
• Do you skip the word
• Ask someone else what it means?
• Look it up in the dictionary?
• The dictionary would be the logical choice, but
what if you are doing an in-class assignment and
forgot your dictionary?
AUTHORS AND CONTEXT CLUES
• Writers and authors often include words or phrases to help their readers understand
the meaning of a new or difficult word.
• As a reader you often need to act similar to a detective and put together clues from
sentences surrounding an unknown word.
• You make an intelligent ―guess‖ as to what the definition of a word is without having
to look up the word in the dictionary.
• Using context clues will help you by
• saving you time when reading
• adding to your vocabulary
• Do you know the meaning of the word
• Look at the cartoon on the next page and see
if the context—the words surrounding the
unfamiliar word—helps you figure out the
meaning of the word.
WHAT DOES CONSOLIDATE MEAN?
c. combine into one
Frank and Ernest are seeking to combine all their small
debts into ―one giant nightmare‖ of a loan.
The context tells you that consolidate means ―combine
LET’S LOOK AT THE WORD
• Do you know what it means?
• Let’s look at this word in different sentences.
• Fifty conifers were delivered to the front door.
• She opened the package and then planted the 50 conifers.
• She planted the 50 conifers along the edge of her property, each about 15
feet apart, and hoped they would grow larger to eventually block the wind.
• When the conifers were about 6 feet tall, she planned to cut one down in
December, bring it into her house, and decorate it with lights and
We will learn four types of context clues
1. Definition or Synonym
2. Contrast or Antonym
4. General Sense of the Sentence
DEFINITION OR SYNONYM
• What is a synonym?
• A synonym is a word that means the same—or
almost the same—as another word.
• Sometimes you can determine the meaning of
a word by finding its synonym in the sentence.
WHICH WORDS IN THIS CARTOON HELP YOU
UNDERSTAND WHAT HUMILIATE MEANS?
• The words ―I feel worthless enough already‖
help you understand that humiliate means
―to make feel ashamed.‖
SYNONYMS & DEFINITIONS
• Watch for words that indicate that you are
being given a definition, such as defined as,
means, is known as, the term is called.
• Watch for synonyms, words that mean the
same thing, such as big and large.
CONTRAST & ANTONYM
• What is an antonym?
• A word that means the opposite of another
• Which word in the cartoon is an antonym of
• Words that signal contrast
• On the other hand
• In contrast
• Even though
• A sentence may contain an example or
examples of an unfamiliar word.
• Examples are probably the most direct type
of context clue.
• The author uses a word and then gives an
example that describes or explains it.
EXAMPLE CONTEXT CLUES
• Authors will often use signal words to let the reader
know that an example is coming.
• For example
• For instance
• Such as
• To illustrate
• Look at the cartoon and see if the examples help you
understand the meaning of the word commitment.
• Commitment means
A. a promise to do something
B. an opinion about something
C. an opportunity for something
The cartoon gives three examples of commitment: a 30-year
mortgage, a 5-year car lease, and a lifetime gym
These examples help you understand that commitment
―a promise to do something.‖
GENERAL SENSE OF THE SENTENCE
• With context clues, the author usually provides the
meaning of a word with other words that surround
that particular word.
• However, sometimes you need to look carefully
at the entire sentence in which an unfamiliar word
appears to figure out the meaning of the word.
• There may be clues within the sentence that help
you figure out the word.
HOW DOES THIS CARTOON ABOUT A JOB INTERVIEW HELP
YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THE WORD IMPRESSIVE MEANS?
• The glowing reference (from the job applicant’s mother!) helps you realize
that impressive means ―very favorable.‖
WHAT IS A CONTEXT CLUE?
a. An interesting word that authors like to put in their
b. Word or words surrounding an unknown word that
give a clue to the meaning of the word.
c. A context clue is not a synonym or an antonym
WHAT DOES A CONTRAST OR
ANTONYM CONTEXT CLUE DO?
a. It gives a clue that is difficult to
b. It gives a word that is the opposite
mean of the word in question.
c. It is the same thing as a synonym.
WHAT IS A DEFINITION/SYNONYM
a.A synonym context clue is a word that is
similar or the same of the word in question. Or
the definition is given.
b.A synonym context clue is the same thing as
an antonym context clue.
c.Synonyms are not used as context clues.
GENERAL SENSE OF THE SENTENCE
a.give a general definition of the word.
b.are more difficult to understand;
therefore, you must read the passage very
c.provide the topic of the sentence.
AN EXAMPLE CONTEXT CLUE
a.Is when in which you have to figure out what
the definition is.
b.Is when the author provides examples of
what the word means.
c.Is the same thing as a definition context clue.
• Martin had acted in a juvenile manner.
Yelling, screaming, and calling the bank teller names had
been childish and immature.
• Juvenile means:
A. childish. B. serious.
Which words are the context clues?
b. Had been
WHAT TYPE OF CONTEXT CLUE IS
USED IN THIS SENTENCE?
When I was sick with the flu, my favorite spicy foods looked awful to me; all I
wanted was bland foods such as broth and toast.
d. General sense of the passage
In the ―Coca Cola‖ case, Sarah Jones pled guilty Friday to the
extreme crime of computer crime and identity theft while her
mother, Carrie Jones, pled guilty to the lesser charge of computer
a. great in degree
What type of context clue is used & which word(s) are the clues?
c. Example-computer crime
d. General sense of the sentence-the entire sentence.
When it comes to flying saucers, most scientists are skeptics—they
question why no spaceships have ever landed in public places.
A. supporters B. doubters C. victims.
What type of context clue is used?
a. Synonym or definition
d. General sense of the sentence
ENGLISH ESSENTIALS CH. 1-3
SUBJECTS AND VERBS
Go to English Essentials PowerPoint Presentation