Need Help?

Get in touch with us


Context Clues

Grade 8
Aug 30, 2022

Beginning readers learn a variety of approaches for deciphering words and extending their vocabularies when confronted with a sea of unfamiliar words. The capacity to see a printed word and read it aloud is referred to as decoding by teachers. 

One method that might benefit readers of all ages and experience levels is to look for context clues. 

Context clues are cues provided by an author to aid in the definition of a difficult or unique word in a book. The clue could appear in the same sentence as the word it relates to, or it could appear in the following sentence. Because we learn the majority of our vocabulary through reading, it’s critical that we notice and use context clues. 

As a dictionary is not always available when a reader encounters an unknown word, learning the meaning of a word through its use in a phrase or paragraph is the most practical way to increase vocabulary. 

Many words have multiple meanings, which the reader must be aware of. Only by paying attention to the context in which a term is used can the reader choose a suitable definition for the situation. 


When an obvious clue to meaning is offered, or when only a general sense of the meaning is required for the reader’s aims, the reader should rely on context clues. When a specific meaning is necessary when clues offer numerous possible definitions when neighboring words are unfamiliar, and when the unknown word is a common one that will be used again, context clues should not be relied upon; in these circumstances, a dictionary should be consulted. 

There are several types of context clues. Let us take a look at some of them: 

1. Definition/ Description Clues: 

The new term might be explicitly defined, or a suitable explanation could be provided inside the sentence or the next sentence. Words like that, and punctuation marks like commas, dashes, and parentheses are all clues to the definition. 


  • Tim’s emaciation, that is, his skeleton-like appearance, terrified me. 
  • Fluoroscopy, an examination with a fluoroscope, is becoming a regular practice nowadays. 
  • This Saturday, let’s visit the arboretum, a garden that is entirely dedicated to the exhibition of plants and trees. 

2. Example Clues: 

When a reader comes across a new word, an example may appear adjacent which helps to illustrate its meaning. Example clues are highlighted by words like including, for example, and such. 


  • Piscatorial creatures, such as salmon, trout, and flounder live in the deepest parts of the ocean. 
  • Celestial bodies, including the moon, the sun, and the stars, have been an object of fascination for men for centuries. 
  • Certain organs have atrophied over the course of man’s evolution. The appendix, for example, has deteriorated due to inactivity. 

3. Synonym Restatement Clue: 

When a notion is stated in neighboring familiar terms, the reader may learn the meaning of an unknown word. Words that have the same meaning are called synonyms


  • The new Miss America began her year-long reign surrounded by spotlights and the center of all attention. For the rest of the evening, she was the cynosure of every eye for the rest of the evening. 
  • The mountain pass is a tortuous road, twisting and winding like a snake around the trees of the mountainside. 

4. Contrast/ Antonym Clue: 

Words with opposing meanings are known as antonyms. The meaning of an unfamiliar word is contrasted with the meaning of a familiar term in an opposite-meaning context cue. Contrast clues can be found in words like however, although, and but. 


  • The pupils of the eyes contract when the light brightens, but dilate when the light dims. 
  • I’ve never seen Stella wear a dull color; she has always dressed flamboyantly. 
Context Clues


Related topics


Exploring the World of Adjectives: Types, Usage, and Examples

What are Parts of Speech? Parts of speech determine words’ grammatical and semantic position in a sentence. Activity time The parts of speech are nouns, adverbs, conjunctions, pronouns, interjections, adjectives, articles, prepositions, and verbs. Identify the parts of speech of the underlined words in the following sentences. White- Adjective Big- Adjective    Exciting- Adjectives New- […]

Memoir writing

Memoir Writing: Basic Elements, Structures, and Types

Memoir: A memoir is a narrative written from an author’s perspective about a particular facet of his/her own life. ‘Memoir’ word comes from the French word ‘memoire’, which means ‘memory’ or ‘reminiscence’. Example Night: Elie Wiesel gives an account of how he survived his teenage years at Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War […]

Identifying the main idea

Identification of Main Idea in Fiction and Non-fiction

Every story or paragraph or non-fictional text has at least one main idea. The MAIN IDEA is what the text is mostly about. (It is backed up or supported by SUPPORTING DETAILS) Before discussing how to find the main idea, we shall first look at TOPIC. Can you define a topic? A topic can be […]

Writing an Article

Writing an Article: Structure and Essential Tips

What is an article? Structure of Article Writing : Title : Draw the attention of readers with an attractive title and indicate the main topic of the article Introduction : Attract the reader’s attention with a sentence that gives a general presentation of the topic. Main Body : Between these sentences, the body should do […]


Other topics