Explainer Video

Tutor: Kat


Using inference

​​In a nutshell

Inference is a way of finding things out about a text by taking the information present in the writing and using it as evidence to make an assumption or a decision. Authors and poets don't always explain things explicitly, but they instead leave it up to the reader to figure things out on their own and infer from the text. In this summary, you will learn how to properly use inference when reading.

Reading between the lines

It is important to 'read between the lines' in order to use inference. This means that you should look for clues that could give you information about the text, but which aren't necessarily laid out on the surface.

When you infer something, it means that there is plenty of information to back up your conclusion or guess about a text, but you have to find this information as the reader, instead of having the writer explain everything.


Cassandra stood up and stretched. As she did this, she squeezed her eyes shut and yawned a deep, shuddering yawn.

From this sentence you can infer that the character of Cassandra is tired, even though the writer hasn't explicitly said that she is. From the way her body language and actions are described, all the evidence suggests to the reader that Cassandra is tired.

The importance of inference

Inference is an important tool for readers because writers often don't want to reveal everything to their readers without letting them discover things for themselves. In order to keep a reader engaged and a piece of text interesting, it is better if the reader is included in the process of figuring things out, rather than simply being told everything by the writer. 

  • Layla was enjoying listening to her new Eric Clapton record in her bedroom.
  • Layla danced about her bedroom and sang along to the lyrics coming from her record player. Her new Eric Clapton record was blasting from the speakers, and she grinned as she turned the volume up again.

In the first example, you are simply told that Layla is enjoying listening to her new record. In the second example, you can infer that she is enjoying listening to the record even though the writer doesn't actually say that. 

The second example is more interesting and the first is more boring because the writer of the second example has allowed you to engage with the text and read actively. The first example gives you all the necessary information about Layla, but it is simply told to you instead of shown, making reading it a passive and a less engaging experience. 

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

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