Inference, Deduction and Interpretation
Being able to read “between the lines” Exam questions require you to not
only recall information but to arrive at some conclusions from the clues in
English language examiners will ask you to infer, imply, deduce and interpret
from the text.
Infer means, reading ‘between the lines’. It might not tell you in the text,
however you should make inferences, by looking at the clues in the text and
logically arriving at the answers. ‘John heard his mailbox slam and Spotty
began to bark. John knew that the postman had just delivered the morning
When a writer suggests something without actually directly saying it, he
implies. The tutor always gets 100% success for his pupils which implies his
the best tutor.
Deduce is detective work and this is when you look at the clues in the text
and logically arrive at a conclusion.
‘The smell of perfume lead the detective to believe that the thief must have
been a woman.’
Interpretation is when we explain the meaning making it easier to understand:
‘English language exams are full of words such as infer, imply, deduce and
interpret which are difficult to understand and so an English tutor can interpret
them to help you improve your understanding for them.’ So reading between the
lines is when you are inferring, deducing, implying and interpreting. The writer is
leaving up to the reader tow work out what it means, and different people will
come to different conclusions.
Information and Ideas
Teenagers know studying can lead to better lives. However
making sacrifices at this age can be difficult for them. There
are many distractions for a teenager, mobile phones, computer
games, social media or simply sitting around and doing nothing.
Getting teenagers to study is like a tug and war game. An
examiner may ask you ‘What does it mean by “getting teenagers
to study is like tug and war”?’
Q: Here you are asked to interpret the sentence. Here are some
student responses. Which one is correct:
Getting teenagers to study is like playing a game of tug and war.
He thinks it’s hard to get teenagers to study.
He thinks that trying to motivate teenagers to study and recognize its
importance is difficult, sometimes you can get them to study and at other
times it’s a struggle. C – is the better answer.
The tutor tells us that studying Chemistry after 16 years ‘requires interest’,
which suggests that if you are uninterested and cannot motivate yourself to
study chemistry at a higher level ‘it might not be for you’. This implies that if
you do not like Chemistry, you should consider a subject which you will
enjoy and do well in.
Here, the student, has come to the logical conclusion that you should study
the subjects you enjoy as you will do better at them.
The writer often implies a meaning, which is not out rightly said. Interpretation
is where you make it easier to understand. Different people will provide
alternative answers, but your response should be backed up with the evidence.