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Chapter 2: Using Context Clues and Word Parts

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1 Chapter 2: Using Context Clues and Word Parts
Active Reading Skills, 2/e Kathleen McWhorter Brette McWhorter Sember PowerPoint by Gretchen Starks-Martin

2 What is Context? The words around the word you want to learn provide context clues to define the word’s meaning. Example: During the lecture, the ornithologist described his research on western spotted owls as well as many other species of birds.

3 Types of Context Clues Definition Clues Synonym Clues Example Clues
Contrast Clues Inference Clues

4 Definition Clues A writer defines a word immediately following its use. Words and phrases are used such as: means, is, refers to, and can be defined. Example: A prosthesis is an artificial replacement for a missing body part, such as an eye, a limb, or a heart valve.

5 Definition Clues Punctuation often signals a clue.
Commas, parentheses, and dashes are often used. Example: Glen was especially interested in nephology, a branch of meteorology that deals with clouds. Example: Middle age (35-65 years) is a time for strengthening and maintaining life’s goals. Example: Many societies are patriarchal—males exert dominant power and authority.

6 Synonym Clues A writer provides a word or brief phrase that is close in meaning. The synonym may appear in the same sentence or in a later sentence.

7 Examples of Synonym Clues
The author purposely left the ending of his novel ambiguous, or unclear, so readers would have to decide for themselves what happened. After the soccer match, a melee broke out in the parking lot. Three people were injured in the brawl, and several others were arrested.

8 Example Clues A writer often includes examples that help to explain or clarify a word. They use words and phrases such as: to illustrate, for instance, for example, such as, and including. Example: Microscopic pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi, constantly threaten our health as we go about our daily lives.

9 Contrast Clues It is sometimes possible to determine the meaning of an unknown word from a word or phrase that has an opposite meaning. Example: At the wedding reception, the parents of the bride seemed to welcome all the attention whereas the groom’s parents eschewed it by staying at their table.

10 Inference Clues Many times you can figure out the meaning of an unknown word by using logic and reasoning skills. Example: Langston Hughes was a protean writer; although he is known mainly for his poetry, he also wrote plays, novels, short stories, children’s books, songs, and essays.

11 What Are Word Parts? Prefixes – beginning of a word
Suffixes – end of a word Roots – the core of a word’s meaning; usually combined with a suffix and/or prefix

12 Example of Word Parts The parents thought their child was unteachable.
(Prefix) un = not (Root) teach = help someone learn (Suffix) able = able to do something Unteachable = not able to be taught

13 Prefixes - Beginnings of Words
Prefixes + Root = New Word dis + respect = disrespect Meaning: not + respect = lack of respect See Table 2-1 for Common Prefixes

14 Roots – Core Meaning of Words
Root dic/dict means “tell or say.” Dictate = to speak for someone to write down Dictionary = a book that “tells” what words mean See Table 2-2 for Common Roots

15 Roots When you see a word you don’t know: Look for the root first.
Keep in mind that the spelling of a root may change a bit if it is combined with a suffix.

16 Suffixes – Word Endings
Root + Suffix = New Word class + ify = classify (verb) class + ic + classic (adjective) class _ ification = classification (noun) See Table 2-3 for Common Suffixes

17 Evaluating Your Progress
Use the “Vocabulary” module in the Reading Skills section on the MyReadingLab Web site at

18 For extra practice visit the Companion Web site.

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