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Increasing Vocabulary. Context Clues. Definition of a Context Clue. The meanings of many words can be figured out by examining their surrounding words and nearby sentences.

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Increasing Vocabulary

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definition of a context clue
Definition of a Context Clue
  • The meanings of many words can be figured out by examining their surrounding words and nearby sentences.
  • In fact, in the English language, many words have more than one meaning. In that case, the meaning of a particular word is determined by the context in which it appears.
  • Restatement
  • Synonyms
  • Antonyms
  • Definitions
  • Explanations
  • Relationships
  • Restatement involves stating an unfamiliar word in another way in the context of the same sentence.
  • For example: Euthanasia, mercy killing, is illegal in the United States. Here mercy killing restates the meaning of the word euthanasia.
  • Some sentences will contain a more familiar word with the same meaning as a new term to provide a clue as to the meaning of the new word.
  • For example: The doctor turned out to be a charlatan, and his patients were worried they had been treated by a fake physician.
  • Here the word fake is the context clue in the form of a synonym for the word charlatan.
  • Antonyms are words that have opposite meanings.
  • Some sentences will provide clues to the meaning of an unfamiliar word by including a familiar word with the opposite meaning.
  • For example: Even though the president disapproved of the bill, he sanctioned its passage to avoid conflict with congress.
  • Here the word sanctioned is explained through contrast with its antonym disapproved.
  • Some sentences are actual definitions of new terms.
  • For example: Histology is the study of cell tissue.
  • In other sentences, although the new word is not defined, it is explained.
  • For example: People should feel compassion toward the poor because they could one day find themselves in a similar situation and would want others to be understanding toward them.
  • Here the word because indicates that the word compassion is going to be explained.
  • A less obvious method of revealing a word’s meaning is through the use of relationships. The reader must draw a conclusion as to the meaning of a new word based on the meaning conveyed by the rest of the sentence.
  • For example: The candidate was jubilant when he heard he was ahead in the polls.
  • Here you would infer that the word jubilant meant very happy because being ahead would make a candidate happy.
in conclusion
In Conclusion
  • Authors often reveal the meanings of new words to readers through the context in which they appear.
  • Methods that are commonly used are restatement, synonyms, antonyms, definitions, explanations, and relationships.
  • The methods explained in this presentation are based on Reading Skills for College Students by Ophelia Hancock.