Using Context Clues to Complete a Sentence

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  • 0:04 Context Clues
  • 0:55 Synonym/Antonym Context Clues
  • 1:53 Definition Context Clues
  • 2:09 Explanation Context Clues
  • 2:36 Completing Sentences
  • 3:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Catherine Rose

Catherine taught middle and high school English and has a master's degree in Education.

Context clues can help readers understand new or unfamiliar words. These clues can also be used to complete sentences. In this lesson, we explore the importance of using context clues to select the correct word or phrase to complete a sentence.

Context Clues

You're looking at a sentence with one or more blanks, and you are asked to supply the missing word or words. You read the sentence and stare at the multiple answer choices in front of you. How are you supposed to be able to choose the right words to complete the sentence when there are so many options? One way to make your choice is to use context clues.

A context clue is a hint that helps readers determine the meaning of a word. By recognizing context clues when you're reading a text, you can learn new words and better comprehend what you are reading. Look at this example:

Because my sister is loquacious, many people get tired of listening to her all day.

In this example, we can use the hint that people get tired of listening to her all day to infer, or guess, that the meaning of loquacious must mean talkative. When we do this, we are using context clues to help us understand the meaning of the word.

Synonym/Antonym Context Clues

There are many types of context clues. Let's examine each one and review some examples.

Synonym Context Clues

A synonym context clue uses words and phrases that have similar meanings to help the reader understand the meaning of the unfamiliar word. Look at this example:

The minuscule, tiny puppy had a difficult time walking up the large stairs.

Minuscule and tiny have similar meanings, so they are synonyms. If you know what tiny means, you can infer what minuscule means.

Antonym Context Clues

Like synonym context clues, an antonym context clue uses the opposite meaning of other words to help readers understand the meaning of the unfamiliar word. The antonym clue, however, uses opposite meanings instead of similar meanings. Look at this example:

Marty wanted to be inconspicuous at the party, but I wanted to stand out so everyone would see my creative costume.

The reader can conclude that inconspicuous must mean not wanting to be seen because the other person wants to stand out.

Definition Context Clues

Definition context clues give the reader the actual meaning of the word in the sentence. Look at this example:

The man's obesity, or too much fat, caused much worry for the doctor.

This sentence actually tells the reader that obesity means too much fat.

Explanation Context Clues

To use explanation context clues, readers must rely on the situation to determine the meaning of the unfamiliar word. Look at this example:

The small cat quivered in fear as the dog growled and showed her his sharp teeth.

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