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Clarifying Questions

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Basics on the topic Clarifying Questions

How do you ask a clarifying question about the words you don’t know? Let’s learn about clarifying questions using our video and exercises!

Clarifying Questions and Context Clues – Definition

Clarifying questions and context clues can be a neat way to find explanations for things that you don’t know within a text that you are reading. This way, you don’t have to ask another person to explain something to you because you might just find the answer to your question within the text itself! Let’s have a look at what clarifying questions and context clues are:

Clarifying questions are questions that you ask to clarify information from a text to better understand it. When reading a text with unfamiliar words, we can ask clarifying questions and look for context clues.

Context clues are clues that are found in a text that help us determine the meaning of unknown words, phrases or topics.

Context clues can be helping words, illustrations or words in a title.

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The title can help us understand the meaning of keywords and what the text is about. Illustrations and pictures help us see what things look like. They give us visual clues about unknown words. Helping words within the same sentence create context, or meaning, around an unknown word and help us determine its meaning and unfamiliar topics or ideas.

Clarifying Questions and Context Clues – Examples

Let’s look at some examples of clarifying questions and context clues to find the meaning of a keyword. First, we need to find the key word in this sentence:

Many students enjoy studying celestial objects, like stars and planets.

The key word in this sentence is celestial. Let’s try to determine the meaning with the help of context clues. You can ask a clarifying question: Do I know any words around the word “celestial” that can help me find the meaning? The words stars and planets can be used as helping words. They are given as examples of celestial objects, and we know those are the things in space. Therefore, celestial means related to space.

Take a look at another sentence:

When the night sky is cloudless, sparkling constellations can be seen clearly.

The key word here is constellations. The text shows an illustration to go with the sentence. You can ask yourself: How can this illustration help me understand what “constellations” are? With the help of the context clues “night sky and “sparkling” and the illustration, we know that constellations are groups of stars.

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Let’s look at the last example and try asking clarifying questions to find the meaning of the key word. Here we have a headline followed by the first sentence in the text:

Science About Space

It is not surprising that sciences like astronomy are becoming more popular.

Let’s try to determine the meaning of the word astronomy. The title of the text is “Science About Space”. You can start with the question: Can the title help me figure out the meaning of astronomy? With the help of the title we know that astronomy* is science about objects in space.

Clarifying Questions – Summary

Context clues are clues that are found in a text that help us determine the meaning of unfamiliar words, phrases or topics. Context clues can be helping words, illustrations or words in a title.

Component Purpose
Helping words Create context around an unknown word and help us determine its meaning.
Illustrations Help us see what things look like and provide visual clues.
Title Helps us understand the meaning of key words and what the text is about.

We can ask clarifying questions about context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words, phrases or topics.

Now you know the definition of clarifying questions and how to ask clarifying questions about context clues. If you want more practice, check out our video and exercises! You can also watch our context clues video to learn more about different types of context clues.

Additional Information about Clarifying Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Clarifying Questions

What are clarifying questions?
What does it mean to ask clarifying questions?
What are the two types of clarifying questions?

Transcript Clarifying Questions

"Whatcha doin' Pearl?" "I think you mean Detective Pearl, and I'm trying to find out what the name 'Pearl' really means!" "Oh cool! How's that going?" "Well, not so good actually. I keep finding words I don't know the meaning of!" "Don't worry Pearl, we can ask questions and use clues to help us work out the meaning of words we don't know!" Let's help Detective Pearl by learning about how to ask clarifying questions. Context clues are clues found in reading that help us find the meaning of words we don't know. Context clues can be helping words or words you know in a sentence, pictures or illustrations within the text or a title. We can ask clarifying questions about context clues to figure out the meaning of words we don't know. Now that we know more about clarifying questions and context clues, let's help Detective Pearl! The first sentence says, 'Pearls are found inside molluscs, like oysters.' They need to use the words they know in the sentence to help find the meaning of 'molluscs'. "Okay Pearl, do you know any of the words around the word mollusc that can help you find the meaning? "Hmm, well I know an oyster has a shell and a soft body so that means a mollusc is an animal with a soft body and a hard shell!" "Great job Pearl!" The second sentence says, 'Most pearls you see are white but have an iridescent glow.' Here, they will use the illustration to help find the meaning of 'iridescent'. "How does this illustration help me understand 'iridescent'? "Well, Pearl, if you look closely, it's glowing the colours of the rainbow!" "Oh! So pretty! So iridescent is when a surface reflects different colours in the light!" Let's look at the final sentence. It says, 'Harvesting pearls is not easy.' How can the title help us to work out the meaning of 'harvesting'? "The title here says, 'How To Gather Pearls" so 'harvesting' is when someone gathers pearls from the water!" "That's it, Otis!" Before we see what they'll do now, let's remember. Context clues are clues found in reading that help us find the meaning of words we don't know. Context clues can be helping words or words you know in a sentence, pictures or illustrations within the text or a title. We can ask clarifying questions about context clues to work out the meaning of words we don't know. "Pearl, I have something for you." "Oh, Otis, thank you; it's beautiful!" "I think my other arms feel excluded, or left out!" "I guess we'll need some more bracelets then!"