Tag Archives: context clues

Supersede (vt)

Because it kept showing up in a social studies course one year I co-taught that subject, I wrote this context clues worksheet on the verb supersede. It means, variously, “to cause to be set aside,” “to force out of use as inferior,”   2 “to take the place or position of,” and “to displace in favor of another.” The clues embedded in the context of the sentences on this worksheet seek mostly to elicit from students the latter two meanings.

Nota bene, please, that this is a transitive verb only, so don’t forget your grammatically required direct object. Something must supersede something else, syntactically speaking.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Stun (vt)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the verb stun. It’s used only transitively, so don’t forget you direct object: the subject of the sentence must stun someone or something.

The verb means, variously, “to make senseless, groggy, or dizzy by or as if by a blow,” “daze,”  “to shock with noise,” and “to overcome especially with paralyzing astonishment or disbelief.” In other words, this is a nice solid verb with a wide but coherent range of meanings that students, by the time they graduate high school, I submit, should know and be able to use proficiently.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Stipulate (vi/vt), Stipulation (n)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the verb stipulate and another on the noun stipulation. This has always seemed to me a word students should know before they leave high school. If nothing else, it gives teachers the opportunity to say to students, “If anyone is looking down the road at law school, here are a couple of words useful to know.

For the record, stipulate is used both intransitively and transitively. Intransitively, it means “to make an agreement or covenant to do or forbear something,” “contract,” and “to demand an express term in an agreement — used with for.” Transitively, it means “to specify as a condition or requirement (as of an agreement or offer)” and “to give a guarantee of.” The noun stipulation means “an act of stipulating” and “something stipulated; especially a condition, requirement, or item specified in a legal instrument.”

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Desultory (adj)

It’s the Word of the Day at Merriam-Webster today, so here is context clues worksheet on the adjective desultory. It means, for the purposes of making meaning on this document, and in the vernacular as well, “marked by lack of definite plan, regularity, or purpose.”

However, it can also mean “not connected with the main subject” and “disappointing in progress, performance, or quality.” This is not a high-frequency word in English, and in any case, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen or heard it used to mean “not connected to the main subject.” On the other hand, “disappointing in progress, performance, or quality” is a close enough corollary to “marked by lack of definite plan, regularity, or purpose that one might say the first definition is the outcome of the second in this sentence.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Stentorian (adj)

Though it’s usefulness in the high school classroom may be dubious, here, nonetheless, is a context clues worksheet on the adjective stentorian. It means, simply, “extremely loud.” Unless this word is useful in, say, a forensics team lesson or anything else related to formal debate, I don’t know where or why to teach it. It’s not exactly a high-frequency word in English. I assume I wrote this because at some point it was the Word of the Day at Merriam-Webster.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Lollygag (vi)

It’s the Word of the Day at Merriam-Webster, so here is a context clues on the verb lollygag. It means, variously but in same vein, “fool around,” “dawdle,” and (from the Word of the Day page itself) “to fool around and waste time” and “to spend time doing things that are not useful.” The verb is only used intransitively, so it will never take a direct object: you don’t lollygag something, you just lollygag.

I understand this slangy word isn’t at the top of the list of the lexicon we need students to accumulate in high school. Nonetheless, with its onomatopoetic character, even charm, it has its virtues. In any case, as a sometimes workaholic (the respectable addiction), I want to make the case for lollygagging as an occasional and necessary part of life.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Sororal (adj)

Here is a context clues context clues worksheet on the adjective sororal. As you can probably hear, this word means “of, relating to, or characteristic of a sister.” If your students plan to belong to a sorority, then this might be a handy word to know. Outside this relatively narrow use, there just might not be a lot of need for this document.

Incidentally, did you know the noun sororate means “the marriage of one man to two or more sisters usually successively and after the first wife has been found to be barren or after her death.” It’s a relatively recent word, apparently, first coined in 1910–though like the other words in this post, it originates with the Latin soror, “sister.”

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Common Errors in English Usage: Garner (vt), Garnish (vt)

Here is a worksheet on differentiating the use of the verbs garner and garnish, two verbs that sound alike but mean very different things (here is a context clues worksheet on garnish I wrote a few days back because it was Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day.) This is a full-page worksheet with a five-sentence reading and ten modified cloze exercises.

For the purposes of this worksheet, garner means “to acquire by effort,” “earn.” “accumulate”, and “collect.” Garnish, on the other hand, means “to add decorative or savory touches to (food or drink).” Both of these verbs are used only transitively, so don’t forget your direct object. You must garner something (praise, awards, evidence, sympathy) just as you must garnish something–a pork chop, a hot fudge sundae, a birthday cake).

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Amenable (adj)

It’s Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day today, so here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective amenable. It means “willing to agree to or accept something that is wanted or asked for,” and that is what the context in the worksheet seeks to elicit.

There is more to this word, however. As Merriam-Webster emphasizes, the “Collegiate Definition” of this word carries a bit more nuance: “liable to be brought to account,” “answerable,” “capable of submission (as to judgment or test)” “suited,” “readily brought to yield, submit, or cooperate,” and, as above, “willing.”

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Sovereign (adj), Sovereignty (n)

Here is a context clues worksheet on sovereign as an adjective and another on sovereignty as a noun. These are a couple of words central to just about any instructional endeavor in social studies.

For the record, sovereign as an adjective, as it is pitched in the first worksheet, means “enjoying autonomy” and “independent.” As it happens, as an adjective, sovereign carries several meanings. As a noun, it means “one possessing or held to possess sovereignty,” “one possessing or held to possess supreme political power or sovereignty,” “one that exercises supreme authority within a limited sphere,” and “an acknowledged leader.”  When we use this word in English, particularly in social studies courses, we mean king or queen.

You have no doubt noted that a sovereign is “held to possess sovereignty.” What does sovereignty, the subject of the second document, mean? For the purposes of the second worksheet, on sovereignty, it means “supreme power, especially over a body politic,” “freedom from external control,” “autonomy,” “controlling influence.” But again, this is a complicated word that isn’t exactly polysemous, but close to it.

You might ask students, if you’ve taught them the verb and noun reign, if they recognize a word they know inside sovereign or sovereignty. It’s a nice way to help students build the kind of semantic web that leads to transfer of learning.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.