Using Context Clues


Try to use context clues to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words. That way you don't have to use dictionary and actually learn more efficiently.

Also See:

Using Sentence Hints
Context Clues Worksheet

Stated Context Clues

TypesCluesExamples
PunctuationCommas ,,,
Parenthesis ()
Dashes--
Brackets[]
The determination of physical characteristics like hair color is the result of polygenic (multiple gene) influence.

Aspiration -- the act of breathing -- was explained in the CPR course.
Definitionis, was, are, means, involves, is called, that is, i.e., which means, resemblesStatistics involves using math to make predictions.
Mitosis, i.e., the equal division of chromosome material, is a necessary step in cell division.

Bridging Context Clues


TypesCluesExamples
Contrasthowever, on the contrary, while, but, instead of, on the other hand, although, nevertheless, yetStudents often cram at the last minute; however, spaced study proves more effective.

ET was an extraterrestrial creature; on the other hand, the children with whom he lived were all from our planet.
Comparisonsimilarly, both, as well as, likewiseMany atolls can be found in the Pacific Ocean; similarly, other coral islands are found in the Caribbean Sea.

Both spaghetti and tortellini are common pasta dishes.
Examplesuch as, such, like, for example, e.g., otherUnguents, such as first aid cream, Cortaid, Vick-Salve, and Deep heat, are found in most homes.

Psychosomatic disorders, e.g., ulcers and tension headaches, are physical illnesses that result from psychological stress.

Experiential Clues


These kinds of clues are more difficult to use than other clues. There are no specific visual clues to assist you, therefore, you must examine the entire situation and/or sentence and draw your conclusions based on what you already know. For example, in many crimes, there may be no physical evidence. Like an investigator, you rely on your experience and knowledge to determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word or phrase.

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