Inferences are ideas that are not stated directly, but are implied by the content of the material. Understanding how to make accurate inferences is key to the ability of fully understanding what an author means. Making inferences is the same as drawing conclusions about what you read. Your inferences are statements about the unknown based on the known. Here are some helpful tips for making accurate inferences about what you read:
Tip 1: Identify an Inference Question
First, determine whether or not an inference question is being asked. The most obvious questions will have the words "suggest," "imply" or "infer" within the sentence, such as the following:
- "According to the passage, we can reasonably infer..."
- "Based on the passage, we can suggest that..."
- "Which of the following statements is best supported by the passage?"
- "The passage suggests that this primary problem..."
- "The author seems to imply that..."
Some questions, however, will not directly ask an inference question. You will have to actually infer that you need to make an inference about the passage. Here are a few questions that require inferring skills, but don't use these words exactly:
- "With which of the following statements would the author most likely agree?"
- "Which of the following sentences would the author most likely use to add additional support to the passage?"
Tip 2: Trust the information given. Do not add on information.
Once you know exactly what an inference is and you have identified an inference question you wil need to trust and use only the details in the passage to make a correct inference to answer the question. To infer correctly, you will need to use the information or clues in the passagge to reason out the answer. Use the supporting details, vocabulary, character's actions, descriptions, dialogue, and more to help you infer correctly. However, be careful not to add on your own opinions or information to the passage. Use only what information is given.
Based on the information given, what can you infer about the following scenarios?
Based on the information given in the passage, answer teh inference question that follows.
The widow Elsa was as complete a contrast to her third bridegroom, in everything but age, as can be conceived. Compelled to relinquish her first marriage after her husband died in the war, she married a man twice her years to whom she became an exemplary wife despite their having nothing in common, and by whose death she was left in possession of a splendid fortune, though she gave it away to the church. Next, a Southern gentlemen, considerably younger than herself, succeeded to her hand and carried her to Charleston, where, after many uncomfortable years, she found herself again a widow. It would have been remarkable if any feeling had survived through such a life as Elsa's; it could not but be crushed and killed by the early disappointment of her first groom's demise, the icy duty of her second marriage, and the unkindness of her third husband, which had inevitably driven her to connect the idea of his death with that of her comfort.
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