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Making Inferences


What is an inference? It is a logical guess based on details and clues in the text. It is like a hypothesis in a science project. In order to make good inferences, we need to pay attention to the details the writer gives us about what they know, and then connect those details to the plot.

Consider the following situation: fewer and fewer customers have been going to the local movie theater. Today, the box office is boarded up and the movie posters have been taken down. What inference can we make?

Well, first, we can infer that the movie theater has closed down. We know this because the box office is boarded up and the movie posters have been taken down. What else can we infer? Why did the movie theater go out of business? Maybe because fewer people were going!

Keep in mind that it is not always possible to include every detail in a story. Sometimes, writers purposely hint at details instead of just saying them. This can create interest and suspense. (consider that if a mystery story started out by telling us who the criminal is, we wouldn't be interested in reading it)


Read the first paragraph from the "Making Inferences" passage attached to your lesson.

What can we infer from the first paragraph?

Detail: Kirsten cheered wildly whenever her team scored a basket.
Inference: Kirsten's team is playing basketball.
Inference: Kirsten supports the team.

Detail: When her teammates sit for a rest, Kirsten looks at her coach eagerly.
Inference: Kirsten in on the team (teammates and coach)
Inference: Kirsten wants to play.

Detail: Each time the coach sent another player onto the court, Kirsten slumped back down on the bench.
Inference: Kirsten is not being chosen to play.
Inference: Kirsten is disappointed.

Now read the last paragraph from this example.
Using the inference chart, try to make inferences based on the information you have been given.

For example:
Kirsten and her teammates are watching the game closely with their hands clasped.

What do we know?
Well, we know that if we're watching something closely, we're interested. We also know that tightly clasped hands usually mean nervousness.

What can we infer?
We can infer that the teammates are interested and nervous about their team winning.

Now try to fill in the other blanks on the worksheet for this passage.