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Context Clues: Cause and Effect
CauseandEffect Clues
You can sometimes determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word by
examining the context in which the word appears. What clues to the
meaning of the word pragmatic can you find in the sentence below?
Father was always pragmatic; consequently, he decided
not to buy the beautiful white sofa on the grounds that it
would show dirt.
A context clue is found in the cause of an action: Fathers rejection of the
white sofa. Because Fathers practical considerations outweighed
considerations of style, the meaning of pragmatic suggests relating to what
is practicaloften to the exclusion of what is beautiful. This type of context
clue is called a causeandeffect clue.
In causeandeffect clues the meaning of a word can be determined from
the cause or the effect of an action. Some words that signal cause-and-effect
relationships are because, since, consequently, therefore, when, and as a
result. Notice how the following signal words (in boldface) help provide
clues to the meaning of the italicized words:
Since she had closely observed the boss for years, the
new manager was as good as her predecessor.
Because the bus was tardy, we missed the first period
at school.
The athlete suffered a spinal injury; consequently he
could no longer walk.
VOCABULARY 57
L ANGUAGE
57