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Four Types of Context Clues

Understand the Types of Context Clues to Master Vocabulary


Baker Street Underground station with Sherlock Holmes mural, London, England
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Four Types of Context Clues

When you're working on the reading section of a standardized test, you're going to have to employ some serious reading prowess to get you through. Knowing the various types of context clues can help you understand difficult vocabulary words in context, which is a must on a long reading section. You'll also need to know how to determine the main idea and make inferences, and context clues can help you out there, too.

Context Clue #1: Definition or Restatement

The meaning of the vocabulary word is in the sentence itself, usually following the vocabulary word.

Jack's duplicity – crafty dishonesty – caused him to steal his coworker's pensions by funneling their money into an offshore account.

Context Clue #2: Synonym

The sentence uses a similar word to help explain the meaning of the vocabulary word.

The baseball coach punished the team's duplicity or deceitfulness after they admitted to using steroids to boost their batting averages.

Context Clue #3: Antonym /Opposite/Contrast

The sentence uses a word with an opposite definition to give the meaning of the vocabulary word.

It was your duplicity that caused me to break up with you! Had you been honest, I wouldn't have felt the need.

Unlike my last employee who had integrity to spare, you have nothing more than duplicity and will not receive a recommendation from me for another job.

Context Clue #4: Example or Explanation

This type of context clue uses examples to help the reader infer the meaning of the vocabulary word.

His duplicity involved lowering his employee's salaries, increasing their stock options, and then stealing the money he saved by doing so.

I was aghast at her duplicity when she stole my diamond earrings, sold them on eBay and lied to me about it the whole time.

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