Readers Guess, Draw Conclusions

Sometimes the author doesn’t say everything that he wants the reader to know. Sometimes he expects the reader to guess, infer, or draw conclusions about what he means by matching what they already know with what he does say.

Give students copies of these passages {separate the paragraphs so they only get one at a time} or write this paragraph on the dry erase board. Print Out

Have students find several examples where they had to read between the lines or they drew on their knowledge of what the author was talking about. They write these in their response journal this week. Inferences are assumptions readers make about the events, characters and themes without directly being told by the author.


  • One summer day Joe and Ann were paddling their canoe. They planned to spend the day fishing and looking for wildlife. They had heard that sometimes dolphins swam up the creek. Suddenly there was a big splash in the water in front of their canoe. Then they knew that what they had heard was true.

    1. Ask the students to guess what probably happened. When someone guesses that a dolphin jumped out of the water, ask how she guessed. Tell students that the author gave these clues: “sometimes dolphins swam up the creek,” and “something jumped out of the water.” He didn’t tell the readers that Joe and Ann saw a dolphin, but he gave his readers clues so they could figure out that sometimes dolphins were spotted in the creek. Yet they didn't actually see a dolphin.

    2. Ask what the students can infer about Joe and Ann from the passage. Students could guess that Joe and Ann like to be outdoors. They like to look for wildlife.



  • They made sure everyone was wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks before they pulled up at the lodge. They noticed that the two men working on the grounds in front of the lodge were wearing nets around their heads and necks and hands.

    1. Ask for guesses about what the author wants the reader to know but isn’t saying.

    When someone gives an answer about mosquitoes or other pests, ask them how they solved the puzzle. They used what they already knew about covering up or wearing nets to infer that the place had insects or pests of some kinds.


  • Joe turned when he heard the splash but only saw the tail fin just as the large fish dove. He could have sworn the fin was that of a dolphin. Ann swirled to the left when she heard a noise and yelped, "Over there!"

          Continue asking students to make inferences about events that happen in and out of the classroom. Give them practice reading passages similar to the ones above, and walk around the room when students are using their textbooks or newspaper articles, guiding individual students to make inferences.        


 A reference: Readers Guess, Draw Conclusions

Suite101: Making Inferences while Reading: How to Read Between the Lines

It Says...I Say...and So

Students determine the facts that are presented and combine them with the inferences they have from the reading. Instructions and example provided in the pdf.

Fact or Inference

Students use their strategy in making inferences from the facts provided.

Open House  

The "Open House" reading strategy (also known as the "Tea Party") gives the students an opportunity to talk to each other about segments of a short story, chapter, or poem and predict what will happen next.


A good graphic organizer for inferring the effects of one action by a character or an event.


In stories and novels many things can be compared. Decide if you want to compare ideas, characters, settings, how two characters see the same event. Topics are endless. We use inferring skills to decide what facts to use from the story.