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Reading to Understand

All readers encounter words they do not know.

The difference is that stronger readers can guess at the meaning of a word based on what surrounds it and then continue along, whereas others get derailed. 

This section should help you feel more confident in making an educated guess about a word based on the context clues.

Context clues are hints about a word's meaning found nearby. You might look for context clues in the same sentence, or in the sentences before and after it. These clues can also be synonyms of the challenging word, or even a brief definition.

Example Passage

In the next passage is the word attrition. If you were unfamiliar with the word you would look around it to gather any clues about its meaning.

Click on the + near each context clue to learn how we can use that clue to determine the meaning of attrition


We can conclude that attrition likely has to do with workers leaving the workforce. 

If we look up "Attrition" in the dictionary, we find this meaning...

Attrition: "a reduction in numbers usually as a result of resignation, retirement, or death."


Our inference from the context clues was correct!

Examining words like this may seem like a long process.

As you gain more skill in working with context clues, though, you will be able to do it more quickly, perhaps without even realizing it. 

The next time you encounter a word you don't know follow this process before immediately going to the dictionary.

Infographic: Read, Examine Clues, Guess, Confirm if Unsure, Read Again