Teaching Inference – ‘Hidden’ Questions

Reading Comprehension Strategies – Teaching Inference – ‘Hidden Questions’ are those you can answer by using clues in the text combined with knowledge you already have.


How to Teach Inference

Question Stems to aid Inferring Word Meanings

3H Reading Strategy - Hidden Question Stems

3H Reading Strategy – Hidden Question Stems

A reference sheet of question stems to aid in learning how to infer word meaning from contextual clues.

How to Use this Guide:

– when running a Guided Reading Session have these question stems next to you and formulate appropriate questions as you see a context
– hand these question stems to your group and ask them to generate questions for the other group members
– have other groups answer the questions.

Working Out Word Meaning from Clues in Text

– Have a guess at the meaning of ‘….. word…..’ Use the clues given in the text before this word & in the next one or two sentences.
– I wonder what this word could mean? (Take an ‘educated guess’)

What clues from the text support this inference?

– We can assume ‘….. word…..’ means (insert meaning ) because …
– We can conclude  ‘….. word…..’ means (insert meaning) because of what clues from the text?
– How do you know ‘… word…’ means (insert meaning)?
 In this sentence the word (insert word) most likely means…

a) … insert definition…
b) … insert definition…
c)  … insert definition…    because…
– What could the word (insert word) mean given (action) & (action) have happened.
– Show me the part of the text that leads you to infer this word means (insert meaning) .
– What clues in the text lead you to make this inference?
– (Insert word) has three meanings in the dictionary. Which is the most appropriate meaning here? Why?
– From the ‘contextual clues’ (hints in the text) what could (insert word) mean?
– Can you see any smaller words in the bigger word that might give you a hint. e.g.‘emotion’ in ‘emotive’.


Huge Hint!!! Read past the word to get more clues!!!

 – What clues in this paragraph point you to a possible meaning for this word?
– I feel there isn’t enough information here to predict the meaning of this word.

3H Reading Strategy - Hidden Question Stems

3H Reading Strategy – Hidden Question Stems

Would you agree? What is our next course of action?
– Is it crucial that we understand the meaning of this word? Why?
– Will I/we lose a significant amount of meaning from the text if I don’t know this word?– Substitute a similar word & see if the sentence makes sense i.e. use a synonym for the unknown word.
– What should I/you think about to infer the meaning of this word?
– What is happening in the text that might give me/us a  clue about the word’s meaning?
– What are people saying, doing, or feeling that might give us a clue about the meaning of the words?

– What context clues led you to your definition?
– Read this passage and underline all of the words that provide clues to the meaning of the word (insert word)
– Authors (people who write books) often put word definitions in brackets after a ‘tricky’ word. Write the words to go in the brackets after (insert word).