What are syntactic cues?

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Syntactic cues are hints based on syntax that help a reader decode and comprehend a text.

Also known as:

grammatical cues


Good readers perceive the relationships among words and phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. They use their knowledge of these relationships and of the language structure (syntax) to help them understand the meaning of a text.


Here are some examples of syntactic cues:

  • When readers read "Once upon a. . .", their knowledge of the structure of English helps them predict that the next word will be "time." That prediction is confirmed when they see the letter "t" at the beginning of the next word.
  • When they read a phrase like "in a deep, dark _____", they know that the next word will be a noun and describe a place.
  • When they read the following sentences, the sentence structure tells them whether the boy or the chair has the broken arm:

    • The boy sat in the chair with the broken arm.
    • The boy with the broken arm sat in the chair.
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