Context Clues -Meaning, 2 types and examples


Context Clues -Meaning and examples


Writers have ways of giving interpretations and meanings to the complex or difficult word. But some reader might not be able to decode these meanings. It is therefore pertinent to look at the various ways which writers enclose meaning in sentences. This is what leads us to context clues.

What is Context Clue?

Thesaurus defines context clue as hints found in a sentence, paragraph, or passage that aids the reader to understand the meaning of new words. The clue may appear within the same sentence as the word to which it refers or it may follow in the next sentence.

Because most of our vocabulary is gained through reading, we must be able to recognize and take advantage of context clues.

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Types of Context Clue and their examples:

There are four types of context clue namely Example context clue, Synonym context clue, Antonym context clue and General Sense context clue.

1. Synonym context clue: It performs the function of a synonym ( I.e words that are nearest in meaning). The first sentence is followed by a simpler one.

(a) I was flabbergasted at his response. It was a great surprise.
(b) The teacher arranged her pupil’s name alphabetically, she starts from letter A to Z.
(c) The boy is very clever. He is so brilliant.
(d) The woman complained that her daughter was too sluggish or lazy in everything she does.
(e) It is good to be optimistic or positive about certain issues.

2. Antonym context clue: This is the used of words that are opposite in meaning. The antonym helps the reader to know the intended meaning.
(a) My sister is a giant while my brother is a dwarf.
(b) Musa has been very hardworking, unlike his lazy and idle brother.
(c) The Super Eagle’s of Nigeria felt victorious. They knew they won’t lose.
(d) In the past, giving birth to twin was a taboo. The act was forbidden.
(e) Mercy love natural hair and dislikes artificial or relaxed hair.

Example Context clue: This is the use of examples to throw more light on what the writer means.

Also See: Acronym -Meaning and 83 examples of acronym

(a) Children should be encouraged to eat protein-enriched food like beans, egg, meat, and milk to prevent poor growth.
(b) Carbohydrate foods like rice, bread, potato and yam supplies energy to the body.
(c) Most people in the Northern part of Nigeria like Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto are farmers.
(d) Every student should be able to write essays like descriptive, narrative, expository essay.
(e) Books, Pens, Pencils, Erasers, Sharpeners, Rulers are stationeries.
(f) Uniform men like police, army, navy have sacrificed a lot for the security of the country.

Explanation or Definition of context clue: This is defining of difficult words in a sentence. It can come after the word or within the sentence.
(a) The fire outbreak incidence throw the entire community into chaos, a situation in which everything is happening in a confused way.
(b) I received three bouquets on my last birthday. There were a bunch of beautiful flowers.
(c) The State Governor ordered that all illegal kiosks should be demolished (completely destroyed) within twenty-four hours.
(d) The young manager was too bossy, he was telling everybody what to do in a commanding and annoying way.
(e) Some languages have gone into extinction because their speakers have abandoned it.: they have died.

Also See: Jargon – Definition and 6 Examples

Other examples are semantic context clues, syntactic context clue and picture context clue. Picture context clue is the use of pictures by the writer to convey his or her intended meaning. This example of context clue is mostly seen in children’s book. The use of pictures will trigger their interest to read.

Semantic context clue concerns words associated with a particular subject matter. It is the duty of the reader to identify the subject matter and watch out for words that relate to it. Failure to do so will lead to reading without comprehension.

For example, when reading an article about the coronavirus pandemic, good readers develop the expectation that it will contain words related to the topic such as contact tracing, sanitiser, face mask, hand washing, social distancing, breathing difficulty, cough, catarrh, first and second wave.


The writer has made various means which a reader can use to understand a story, an article, and books. Therefore, it is the duty of readers to be conversant with the types and examples of context clue for easy comprehension.

Igbaji Ugabi Chinwendu, from Cross River State, Nigeria. As a Business Educator, he is profoundly interested in teaching and managing business. Started blogging 2010 and officially 2013. He holds the esteemed positions of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director at Freemanbiz Communication and Writers King LTD, demonstrating his leadership and expertise in the field.


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