Term of Art: Context Clues

“context clues: Using information in a sentence or paragraph surrounding a new term to help the reader understand that term. There are several items to look for when searching for context clues, including

  • a punctuation mark (such as a comma or dash) that may signal that information is being presented about the new term
  • key words: words such as or and that is may signal that definition is to follow.
  • Definition: sometimes the meaning of a new word may be made clear by reading the entire paragraph in which it appears.

Learning to use context clues to gain meaning is an important reading skill. A student who is able to use the context to identify an unknown word, grasp the meaning of a word, or comprehend a passage read, will become a good reader.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

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