Context Clues

What are Context Clues?

Context Clues are what you use to find the meaning of an unknown word. You can use things like synonyms, antonyms, examples, or definitions and explanations to help you uncover the hidden meanings.

Types of Context Clues:

  • Synonym context clues are words around a difficult word that mean the same or nearly the same as the word.
    Example: After seeing the video of the starving dogs, we felt compassion or pity for their suffering.
  • Antonym context clues are words around a difficult word that mean the opposite or nearly the opposite as the word.
    Example: Madison was reluctant to take the job of classroom manager.  He was afraid of not doing a great job.  On the other hand, Luis was eager for the chance to be the classroom manager.
  • Direct definition context clues are words that say, “Stop – don’t touch that dictionary. The definition of the word you don’t know is right here in the text!”
    Example: The enormous, or very big tree, fell on the house and smashed it to pieces!
  • Examples or illustration context clues are when an author tries to show what a word means. A writer may give one or several examples.
    Example: The river was full of toxic materials such as cleaning agents from factories and pesticides from the nearby farms.


Tips for using Context Clues

  • Look right after the word for clues
  • See if their is a group of words in a comma set after the word
  • Look in the previous sentence
  • Look in the following sentence
  • Replace the unkown word with a guess and see if it makes sense
  • Use word parts, such as roots, suffixes, and prefixes.
  • Consider the words function in the sentence
  • Think about the feelings around the word. Is it positive or negative?

Also, check out this video by the Flocabulary crew…

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