Context Clues

Word Detective

Teacher's Guide
On Off
Start your free trial.

Context clues are hints in a sentence or passage that can help you define a word you don't know. The clue may appear in the same sentence as the word you don't know or in a nearby sentence. This is a useful strategy because it helps you understand what you are reading, and it allows you to easily learn new vocabulary.

Sometimes you may need to look up the word in a dictionary. But other times, context clues will help you figure out the word on your own!

Sometimes a challenging word or phrase is explained in simpler language. Look for a synonym : a word or phrase that has the same meaning as the unknown word.

Example: My pet peeve is people chewing with their mouth open—it's so annoying!

So a “peeve” is something that annoys or bothers someone.

Sometimes we can figure out the meaning of a word by looking for a word with the opposite meaning nearby. Look for an antonym : a word or phrase that has the opposite meaning as the unknown word.

Example: Though some students are insubordinate , others obey their teachers and follow all the rules.

So “insubordinate” describes someone who disobeys or doesn't follow rules.

Another way to be a word detective is by breaking the word into parts: roots, prefixes and suffixes. These word parts hold the key to the word's meaning.

dis obey: “dis” means opposite + “obey” means to follow the commands or guidance of

help ful : “help” means assist + “ful” means full of

thermo meter : “thermo” means heat + “meter” means measure

To learn more about these kinds of word clues, check out units on suffixes., prefixes.and roots.

Sometimes the meaning of a word or phrase is explained immediately following its use. Look for an explanation for the unknown word in the sentence or in sentences nearby.

Example: My friend was so forlorn when her dog died that she cried for a week.

So “forlorn” means very sad.

Sometimes specific examples in the sentence help define the term.

Example: Whales and sharks are my favorite aquatic animals.

So "aquatic" means “in water,” since both whales and sharks live in the sea.

Tests and answer keys are only available for paid subscribers.

Click below to sign up for a digital subscription.

Copyright ©2014 FlocabularyTerms|Privacy Policy|Credits