Inference is a mental process by which we reach a conclusion based on specific evidence. It is a part of being human, because according to our experiences we reach to a conclusion while reading or listening. For exp; to find something significant, we make sense of remarks while listening. “What might the speaker mean?” or while reading we can draw conclusions according to the passage. Most of the time we need to read between lines to draw these conclusions easily.
Just check these samples:
“Mike carefully examined the bug on the grass. He noticed that he had six legs and a hard shell. He had never seen a bug like this before. He grabbed his magnifiying glass and camera.”
Now find the best choice:
1)What do you think will Mike do next?
b- Run away
c- Scare the bug away
d- Take the picture of it. 🙂
2) What do you know about Mike?
a- He is helpful.
b- He is afraid of bugs
c- He is a curious boy. 🙂
d- He likes to play soccer.
As you see,characters say and do things that help us make inferences about the story easily. According to this example we can say that inferences are not random and they are educated guesses based on evidence supporting the idea.
The more evidence we have before us, and the more carefully we reason, the more valid our inferences. This principle plays an important role with reading: the more evidence within a text we incorporate into our interpretation, the more likely we have not gone astray from any intended meaning.
Have a look at the ladder of inference:
When we think about inferencing in terms of reading, first of all we can say that reading is an active process.Actually we don’t read words but ideas. The notion of inference is really powerful in this regard.
“Consider the following statement:
The Senator admitted owning the gun that killed his wife.
On the face of it, we have a simple statement about what someone said. Our understanding, however, includes much that is not stated. We find meaning embedded in the words and phrases. Unpacking that meaning, we can see that the Senator was married and his wife is now dead—although this is not actually stated as such. (In fact, the sentence is about an admission of gun ownership.) It is as though the single sentence contains a number of assertions:
- There is a Senator.
- He owns a gun.
- He is married.
- His wife is dead.
- That gun caused her death.
- The Senator admitted owning that gun.
Clearly, the original sentence is a clearer and simpler way of conveying all of this information. Writers take note!
On a more subtle level, we recognize that a public figure confronts involvement in a major crime. Our understanding need not stop there. We infer that the gun (or at least a bullet) has probably been recovered and identified as the murder weapon—or the notion of an admission would make little sense.
We also recognize the danger of unwarranted inferences. We recognize that we do not necessarily know if the Senator’s admission is true. We do not really know whether the Senator is in any way responsible for his wife’s death, nor do we know that she died of gun shot wounds (she could have been hit over the head with the gun). We do not even know if it was murder—it might have been suicide or an accident.
Are we reading things in here? Or are these meanings truly within the sentence? We are going beyond that the textsays, but not beyond what it actuallymeansto most readers.”*
That’s all for this post 🙂