Using the Context Tips
1. Use the syntax of the sentence to determine the unknown word’s part of speech.
example: Fish _________ in the sea.
What is the part of speech of the unknown word?
2. Look at the other verbs and modifiers to see how these words relate to your unknown word.
example: After the ferocious _________ ate the gazelle, he roared and rejoined the pride near the watering hole.
The words “ferocious”, roared” and “pride” are clues to the unknown word.
3. If the unknown word is part of a list, what characteristics does it share with the other items on the list?
example: My favorite colors are green, red, and a golden _______.
Since the other words on the list are colors, then the unknown word must be a color also,
4. See if the unknown word is in contrast to a known word in the sentence.
example: When I voted for the President, he appeared to be a liberal, but after he got in, his business policies became _______.
The unknown word must be the opposite of “liberal”.
5. Often an author will define a word parenthetically, or in the previous or following sentences.
example: The cry “Slainté” could be heard all around the pub as the glasses were raised. (“Slainté” means “health” in Irish Gaelic).