What are some things you can infer in this picture?
What is an inference? Making an inference is using the text and your prior knowledge to make educated assumptions about what you read. Another term for making inferences is “reading between the lines.”
How do I use inferences? Inferences can be use to draw conclusions about: 1. General facts from the text Like who, what, when, and where 2. Emotions and feelings of a character What is the character feeling? 3. The author’s opinion and point of view How does the author feel about what they are writing?
How do I make inferences? To infer successfully you must: 1. Look for clues or references in the text 2. Understand the connotations of words - Connotation is the non-literal meaning of the word 3. Apply your own prior knowledge and experiences in combination with the text
Example “Rain lashed against the windows as Jane stamped up and down the room stopping only to check the time on the mantle clock every five minutes. Her book, bought with such enthusiasm the day before, was flung carelessly in the corner beside the abandoned picnic basket. Jane stamped her feet and began to repeat her earlier tedious complaints against nature. Emily merely smiled to herself and carried on reading the newspaper without as much as a nod of the head.”
Example What plans did Jane have for the day? The “abandoned picnic basket” and “rain [lashing] against the windows” implies that Jane had planned to have a picnic but was unable to because of the rain.
Example What is Jane’s mood? In this passage, Jane is stomping around the room, constantly checking her watch, flinging her book, and offering complaints. From these actions, we can infer that Jane is frustrated, irritable, and disappointed.
Example How does Emily feel about Jane’s behavior? The fact that Emily smiles and continues to read the paper “without so much as a nod of the head.”, implies that Emily is unsympathetic towards Jane and feels little pity for her even though Jane seems to be throwing a fit.
Inference Activity On your paper, you and your partner need to write down as many inferences as you can about the following situation. What do you think is happening? Who are the people involved? What are they doing and why? “He put down $10 at the window. The woman behind the window gave $4. The person next to him gave $3, but he gave it back to her. So, when they went inside, she bought him a large bag of popcorn.”
Where are these people at? How do you know this? The word popcorn in the last sentence implies these people are going to the movies because people typically get popcorn at the movies. They also could be going to a play that serves food, some type of sporting event, or some type of indoor concert or fair. They also could be going to a play that serves food, some type of sporting event, or some type of indoor concert or fair.
How is the exchange of money significant to the story? The money probably has to do with buying tickets. The guy puts down $10, and got $4 back. You could infer that he’s trying to pay for himself and his date (the girl who tried to give him $3 but instead bought popcorn) and that the tickets cost around $3. Since the tickets are relatively cheap, you might infer that this scene is taking place a long time ago or that the two people are seeing a matinee. Also, you could infer that the popcorn probably costs around $3 because it makes sense that the girl would try to buy something that roughly makes up for the ticket price.
Who are the people in the story? In order to make any sense of this story, you have to make some assumptions about the pronouns. In order to make any sense of this story, you have to make some assumptions about the pronouns. For example, you could infer that the “he" is the man on the date. You also could infer that the “her” and “she” in the third and fourth sentences are referring to a different woman than the “woman behind the counter”. Furthermore, you could assume that the “woman behind the counter” is the movie cashier, while the “her/she” of the later sentences refer to the man’s date. You also could infer that “they” in the last sentence is referring to the man and his date, not the man and the woman behind the counter or another group of other people.
How could you infer that the man and woman are possibly on a date? Thinking the guy and girl are on a date makes sense because the guy seems to be buying the girl a ticket, something you do on a date. You can infer that he’s buying a ticket because he’s handing money across a “window”, an arrangement of sale you usually find at movie theatres. You could also infer that this might be a first date because the girl attempts to go Dutch by giving the guy “$3”. When the guy won’t let her, she buys the popcorn and food instead.
What can you infer about the couple’s personalities and/or relationship? As for what type of people these are, you could infer that the guy is being nice because he won’t let the girl pay for the ticket. In other words, he’s trying to be a gentleman. You could also infer that the woman on a date doesn’t want to feel too obligated to the guy so she buys the popcorn, perhaps because she knows the guy doesn’t have that much money or perhaps because she doesn’t really like him and is worried about false impressions or perhaps because she wants to seem independent and not in need of a man.
Reflection From this activity, you can see the amount of thinking that reading requires. Reading is not just sitting there “doing nothing”. It is ACTIVE process!! Ambiguous pronoun references force a lot of assumptions on a reader. For example, we can only assume that there are three separate people in the above passage because all of the female pronouns could be referring to the “woman behind the counter”. So, take a lesson from this passage’s ambiguity in your own short answer responses– be sure to clarify for your reader who and what you’re talking about. Ask questions. Asking yourself things like “Why is their popcorn? Could it mean that they’re at the movies?” helps you interact with the words on a page to create meaning. You must make inferences to read well.
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