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Chapter 1: Determining the Meaning of an Unfamiliar Word through Context.

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1 Chapter 1: Determining the Meaning of an Unfamiliar Word through Context

2 Context Clues Context clues consist of words in a sentence or paragraph that enable readers to reason out the meaning of unfamiliar words. (Context is whatever surrounds something else. Words appear in the context of a sentence.) Ask yourself, What would this word have to mean in order to make sense in this sentence?

3 Five Types of Context Clues Definition or synonym clues Contrast clues Example clues General sense of the sentence Clue from another sentence Each type of clue has certain signals.

4 Definition or Synonym Clue The author defines the word or gives a synonym. Signals: --phrases such as the term, is defined as, means, is known as, etc. --a definition following a comma, colon, or dash, or enclosed in parentheses, brackets or dashes --a term or definition in special print --synonyms introduced by or, in other words, that is, is also known as, by this we mean, etc.

5 Contrast Clues The author includes a word or phrase that is the opposite of the word whose meaning you are trying to figure out. The meaning will be the opposite of the opposite. Signals: --Words such as but, however, on the other hand, nevertheless, yet, in contrast, and some...others --Opposite words (e.g., men and women; Democrats and Republicans; ancient and modern)

6 Example Clues Consist of one or more examples that are used to illustrate the meaning of the unfamiliar word. The example is not the definition, but it is a clue to it. Signals: --Examples are typically introduced by for example, to illustrate, for instance, and such as

7 General Sense of the Sentence Call on your prior knowledge to help you figure out the meaning of the unknown word. Signals: --None, so remember to ask yourself, What would this word have to mean in order to make sense in this sentence?

8 Clues from Another Sentence There may be helpful clues or information in a sentence that precedes or follows the one that contains the unfamiliar word. Signals: -- None, so be sure to ask yourself, What would this word have to mean in order to make sense in this sentence?

9 The Edge: Pointers from the Coach Some context clues can be misleading since context clues do not always provide perfect clues to an unfamiliar words meaning. When you are using the context, you are making an educated guess. Context clues may not always be complete. Even so, if you look a word up in the dictionary, the context will help you determine which definition you need--the one that makes sense in the sentence.

10 The Edge (continued) Be sure you understand the definition or synonym given in a sentence. If context clues prove inadequate, you should use other ways to determine the meaning of the unfamiliar word or term. Use word structure clues (word parts) to confirm the educated guess you made from context clues.

11 The Edge (continued) Learning a word in context helps you remember its definition. Pay attention to specialized or technical terms because professors will ask you their definitions on tests.


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