Context Clues by Kathy Adams. LA.910.1.6.3 Benchmark Description: The student will use context clues to determine meanings of unfamiliar words; . Content Focus: Context Clues Text Attributes: Texts should be literary or informational.
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The student will use context clues
to determine meanings of unfamiliar words;
Content Focus:Context Clues
Text Attributes: Texts should be literary or informational.
Other stimuli may include, but are not limited to, illustrations with captions, graphics, and charts.
Texts must contain a word unfamiliar to most students, and clear and sufficient context must be present for students to determine the meaning of the word.
Distractor Attributes:Distractors may include, but are not limited to
incorrect meanings of the assessed word;
meanings of the assessed word that are correct but are not appropriate for the context surrounding the assessed word;
contextual meanings drawn from the text but unrelated to the assessed word; and
plausible but incorrect distractors based on the text.
Six Kinds of Context Clues
The words or sentences around an unfamiliar word
often provide clues about the word’s meaning.
In some cases, signal words can act as clues.
Words such as in other words, these, or that is can signal
the restatement of the word.
Example: The veterinarian treated every animal owner
in an affable manner;in other words, she
was gentle and friendly with them.
From the context, readers can tell that affable means “gentle and friendly.” The
phrase in other words signals that the words gentle and friendly retate the meaning
of the word.
Words such as such as, for example, especial, in that,
or likewise can indicate to readers that an unfamiliar
word is being restated in more familiar terms.
Example: Many types of fauna, for example the javelina,
the coyote, and the peregrine falcon, live in Big Bend
Words such as but, however, although, not, still, despite,
on the other hand, some…but others, and in contrast
indicate that an unfamiliar word contrasts with another
word in the passage.
Example: Maria was enthralled by the new movie, but her
friend found it dull and uninteresting.
From the context, readers can tell that enthralled means “fascinated.”
The word but signals that enthralled contrasts with the words dull and
Cause and Effect Clues
Words such as lead to, cause, because, effect, reasons,
as a result, consequently, since and why show how one
word may be a cause or effect related to an unfamiliar
Example: Because he wanted to marry a divorcee,
Edward VIII choose to abdicate the British throne in 1936.
From the context, readers can tell that abdicate means “to formally give
up power.” The word because signals that abidcating is an effect of
Edward VIII’s wanting to marry a divorcee.
A sentence may actually define or explain an unfamiliar word.
Example: The title of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel Tender is the
Night contains an allusion, or reference, to a poem by
From the context, readers can tell that allusion means “reference.”
The appositive phrase “or reference” signals the meaning of the word.