You may have heard the term “context” and thought, “Yeah, I get it, context is important.” But what is context?

Where you find something in the world can be just as important as what you find. Context is the information you have about a particular thing, which helps to determine its meaning or significance.

In geography, context is often tied up with place — what else is around a particular area?

A forest might be more valuable than a building; that same forest might not be as valuable if it’s next to a major highway.

Context affects the way we look at things. We tend to see things differently depending on how they are presented to us.

What is context

What is context?

Context refers to the details surrounding a specific idea, situation or event. In literature and film, context is the relevant information that helps a reader understand the meaning of a text.

Context gives meaning and significance to an action or statement. The same words used in different contexts can have very different meanings.

Context is important because it provides the reader with helpful information about what’s going on in a story.

This information allows readers to make predictions about what’s going to happen next or how a certain character feels.

It also helps them understand why something happened in the past, which makes it easier for them to understand the author’s message.



Context in literature refers to words or phrases that mean something different when they are put into different situations. 

They might sound like synonyms because of their similar meaning but they may have a very different connotation depending on their context; this is known as semantic shift.

For example, “overwhelm” can mean either “to cover completely” or “to overwhelm with emotion.” There are two contexts for this word: physical and emotional, and both have different meanings.

Context in film refers to the setting and time period in which a film takes place. This helps create a mood, so the audience knows what to expect while watching it. 

If someone watches a film set in modern times, they would be surprised if the characters were wearing gowns and corsets.

Narrative context is used in literature and film to provide information about a topic being discussed. It usually provides details about how a situation came about so readers or viewers can get an idea of what led up to an event. 

Characteristics Of Context In Literature And Film

One of the most important aspects of context is the relationship between characters and their surroundings.

Where are they? What do they see? What does the environment tell us about them?

Think about the setting of a horror film. The dark lighting, the scary music, and the spooky location all create a creepy effect.

In contrast, the bright lights, cheerful music, and happy people in a comedy create an upbeat mood.

The environment can also reinforce character traits.

For example, if you’re writing a story about a girl who is trying to stand up for herself against an abusive stepfather, putting her in a dark basement with no windows would enhance this idea.

Environment can also give clues to relationships between characters. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald describes Daisy’s house as “overlooking” East Egg, where Gatsby lives.

This suggests that Daisy never has to leave home to go visit him, which shows that their relationship is casual compared to others in the book who have to take long road trips to see one another.

Context Clues Set The Stage In Literature And Film

Context clues are useful for figuring out what the main idea is about. Context clues can also help you understand how specific details relate to the main idea.

Here’s an example: 

Take a look at this sentence: The very next day, the man threw a ball of yarn into the air and then went searching for it all over the countryside.

When we read the sentence above, we might not know exactly what happened. 

However, if we read the sentence below, we get a better idea of what’s going on:

The very next day, the man threw a ball of yarn into the air and then went searching for it all over the countryside. The dog had eaten it!

As you can see from this example, context clues tell us that someone threw a ball of yarn into the air and then searched for it all over the countryside.  

Even though this sentence doesn’t use many context clues to help us understand what happened, it does use one key clue to help us figure out what happened: The word “it.”

This clue tells us that whatever happened must have involved something that was thrown up in the air and then searched for later.

 How To Add Context Clues In Writing

Have you ever read a book and felt lost or disoriented? That’s bad context. Bad context is something that happens to all of us, to varying degrees.

There are a few ways that we can avoid bad context in our writing:

  • We can use sensory details.
  • We can use dialogue tags (said, asked, whispered, etc.).
  • We can use setting details.
  • We can include an explanation for why we’re using one sense over another (if it makes sense for the story).
  • We can include more than one character’s view point in a scene so that the reader has more than one source of information about what’s happening.

We can use “transition scenes” that explain how characters get from one place to another. 

What Does Context Mean?

Context is an important element in communication. When two people are talking about the same thing, there’s no need for them to say everything twice.


One person will make a statement, and the other person will respond with “that’s right” or “I agree.” The first person then elaborates on his or her statement, and so on.

When you’re writing, you don’t have other people to help you elaborate on your ideas. You need to do it yourself.

That’s where context comes in. Context helps you figure out which details are important and which can be left out.

For example, if a customer has been looking at shirts all day long, she might notice that some of them have buttons and some don’t. You don’t have to tell her that all of the shirts are button-less — she already knows that — but you do need to provide the context for why shirts without buttons are cheaper than ones with buttons.

That’s why it’s important to establish context within the first few sentences of your copy. If you’re writing about how exactly something works (or how to use it), you want to let the customer know what they’ll be getting into right away.

How To Use Context As Exposition

Context is the key to exposition. It’s what makes exposition effective, and is often what makes exposition essential.

Context also allows us to skip a lot of “telling” and move straight into “showing”. 

We can see this by looking at an example from the novel The Da Vinci Code.

In the story, Robert Langdon has been called to the Louvre Museum in Paris because two museum officials are concerned about a private meeting one of the curators, Jacques Sauniere, has arranged there. When Langdon arrives, he finds Sauniere dead and his body covered with cryptic symbols (which help propel the rest of the story).

So here we have a situation: 

A man shows up at a location and discovers another man dead with strange symbols drawn on his body. This scene could be played out in a number of ways.

Tips For Incorporating Context

When it comes to writing blog posts, one of the most important elements to keep in mind is context. Readers want to feel included and informed and it is up to you as the writer to provide them with the information they need.

Tone is an extremely important element of this and can be used to speak directly to your readers. If you find yourself struggling with how to incorporate tone into your writing, here are a few helpful tips that you can use.

Start in a Broad Way

The first tip for incorporating context is to start in a broad way. Begin by explaining what the topic means, or where it came from.

This will help set the stage for your readers and let them know that you aren’t just going to dive into things without giving them a bit of background info first.

Don’t Be Too Technical

While it’s good to have some technical terms in there, don’t go overboard on them. If you absolutely must include some technical terms, make sure you define them first so that everyone understands what they mean.