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When learning new Chinese words, I write down an example sentence from which I can infer its meaning. This way, when I've forgotten the word, I can simply read the sentence and deduce (or remember) what it means in a kind of "aha moment". Importantly, it circumvents looking the word up in a dictionary.

I look for sentences with these two properties (which I illustrate in English):

  1. The target word is the most difficult word in the sentence. E.g.:

    Bad: The dentist donated a significant portion of his income in charity.
    Good: He wanted to help poor people, so he gave money in charity.

    In the "bad" example, to infer the meaning of "charity", we need to already know what multiple other sophisticated words mean. In the "good" example, the other words are relatively simple.

  2. The word is not readily replaceable by another word at the same level. E.g.:

    Bad: I study biology at school.
    Good: I study biology because I like animals.

    It's not possibly to infer the meaning of "biology" from the "bad" sentence; it could be replaced by "history" and still be a valid sentence. In the "good" sentence, you can reasonably infer it's "biology" (or maybe "zoology", but that's at a higher study level).

I wonder if there's a name for such sentences.

Question: Is there a term that describes a sentence from which you can infer the meaning of a word?

  • I am afraid "good" and "bad" are no scientific parameters. Moreover, the notion of inference is entirely out of order hier. – user27758 Apr 11 at 17:27
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    How about a cloze sentence, cloze prompt, or just cloze, from the question type. – rchivers Apr 14 at 14:16

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