An inference is a conclusion that the reader makes while using the clues within a text.
So, even when an author doesn’t explicitly express something, he or she can leave tiny hints in the text, and it’s up to you to connect these dots and come to a conclusion.
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Making inferences differs from making guesses because they are based on provided evidence. So when you read, you need to pick up on these little hints or clues that the author has left behind in the text. Then, you’ll have to put these hints together to come up with your inference.
Now, let’s take a look at a few examples.
“Charlene’s toddlers are upstairs in bed asleep. She’s hearing loud thumps and then crying.”
So we know that the toddlers are in bed asleep. Then, Charlene hears a loud thump and crying. So you may infer, and also Charlene may infer, that (or maybe one) her toddlers have fallen out of the bed.
Well. this example is not saying that the toddler or the toddlers did fall out of bed. Neither does it say that Charlene went running upstairs and was finding the child on the bedroom’s floor, but you may infer so as you know the child was sleeping in bed and then we heard a thump.
Probably the child fell on the floor after which it started to cry. Because her child is scared because it woke up at night or hurt as it fell on the floor, Charlene may infer that her child had fallen out of bed. And the reader can also infer that has what happened when they’re processing the story to figure out the things the writer was trying to convey with the given clues.
Now, let’s take a look at one more example.
“Nathan is seeing lots of cookie crumbs across the floor and lots of chocolate around the mouth of his son.”
So there are cookie crumbs across the floor and chocolate around his son’s mouth. This tells us that Nathan’s son did get into the family’s cookie jar. Sure, it may be something else that a cookie jar. He could have gotten into a nice pack of chocolate cookies, but we don’t actually know all of that.
We just know that when there are lots of cookie crumbs across the floor and lots of chocolate around the mouth, his son, somehow, has gotten into cookies. So here, we may infer that Nathan’s son got into the chocolate cookie jar, or a nice pack of chocolate cookies, without the author explicitly us that.
Well, that’s all there is to inference. So we read something and then come to some sort of conclusion. Many times, this really is about obvious things. When you read about a woman coming out of a storm, and you read that she’s soaking wet and that it’s raining cats and dogs outside, you may well infer that the woman didn’t have an umbrella.
You’ll see that some things include just some common sense. When they’re coming to you, often you even don’t realize that you’re making inferences. Basically, inferences are merely conclusions that readers make based on presented evidence.