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Reading Comprehension
Volume 6, Number 3, September 25, 2000

Using Inference

Sometimes someone will try to tell you something without coming right out and saying it. He will imply it. When you understand what is implied, you infer. Sometimes you can infer the truth even when the speaker or writer isn’t trying to be helpful. That’s called “reading between the lines.”

See if you can infer an impled or hidden message in each of the following selections.


Turner almost wished that he hadn’t listened to the radio. He went to the closet and grabbed his umbrella. He would feel silly carrying it to the bus stop on such a sunny morning.

1. Which probably happened?

a. Turner realized that he had an unnatural fear of falling radio parts.
b. Turner had promised himself to do something silly that morning.
c. Turner had heard a weather forecast that predicted rain.
d. Turner planned to trade his umbrella for a bus ride.


“Larry, as your boss, I must say it’s been very interesting working with you,” Miss Valdez said. “However, it seems that our company’s needs and your performance style are not well matched. Therefore, it makes me very sad to have to ask you to resign your position effective today.”

2. What was Miss Valdez telling Larry?

a. She would feel really bad if he decided to quit.
b. He was being fired.
c. He was getting a raise in pay.
d. She really enjoyed having him in the office.


No, Honey, I don’t want you to spend a lot of money on my birthday present. Just having you for a husband is the only gift I need. In fact, I’ll just drive my old rusty bucket of bolts down to the mall and buy myself a little present. And if the poor old car doesn't break down, I’ll be back soon.

3. What is the message?

a. I don’t want a gift.
b. Buy me a new car.
c. The mall is fun.
d. I’ll carry a bucket for you.


Bill and Jessica were almost done taking turns choosing the players for their teams. It was Jessica’s turn to choose, and only Kurt was left.
Jessica said, “Kurt.”

4. We can infer that ________

a. Kurt is not a very good player.
b. Jessica was pleased to have Kurt on her team.
c. Kurt was the best player on either team.
d. Jessica was inconsiderate of Kurt’s feelings.

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