Good readers string together clues from the text and their own background knowledge or experience to make inferences. This resource helps you as a reader understand inferences and make your own!

What is an Inference?

An inference is an idea that is suggested by the facts or details in a passage.

Most writing suggests more than it says.  Conclusions may be missing from the things you read, so you have to draw your own.  An author may not include information for several reasons:

  1. They may think you already know it.
  2. It may not seem important to them.
  3. They may want you to find the result.

How to Make an Inference

  1. Observe all the facts, information, and arguments given by the author.
  2. Consider what you already know from your own experience.
  3. When faced with multiple choice answers, determine whether each is true or false based on the information in the passage
  4. Think about the facts of the passage and what may result from them.
  5. Think about causes and effects. Sometimes, the writer may only provide a list of effects, so you have to figure out the cause. 
  6. Try using “Ifthen…”


The woman waited nervously in line. When the counter was empty, she carefully unloaded her items from her cart. Lines creased her forehead as if to show the calculations ringing up in her head. Finally, the cashier began ringing up the items as the woman clutched her purse.

Inference: The woman may not have enough money to cover the cost of her groceries.

The child stood on the sidewalk clenching her ice cream cone. Beads of sweat collected on her little nose as she furiously licked at the ice cream dripping down her hand.

Inference: It must me a hot day because her ice cream is melting, and she is sweating.

Inference: If the girl is sweating, then it may be warm outside. 

Inferences and Culture

For better or worse, many writers make assumptions about shared cultural experiences they believe their audience will recognize. For that reason, learn as much as you can about the cultural context of the story. Some ways to learn about a culture:

1. Ask friends in that culture about their childhoods.

2. Watch movies and television from that culture, including from several decades back.

3. Read, read, read.  

Kaylan | 2019

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