Literal, Inferential and Critical Comprehensive Reading

©Copyright DRK 2012

Comprehension is understanding what is being said or read. When it comes to reading, It is an active process that must be developed if a learner is to become a proficient reader. Effective reading skill development is further accomplished when the learner becomes proficient in literal, inferential and critical comprehensive reading.


Literal comprehension involves what the author is actually saying. The reader needs to understand ideas and information explicitly stated in the reading material. Some of this information is in the form of recognizing and recalling facts, identifying the main idea, supporting details, categorizing, outlining, and summarizing. The reader is also locating information, using context clues to supply meaning, following specific directions, following a sequence, identifying stated conclusion, and identifying explicitly stated relationships and organizational patterns. These organizational patterns can include cause and effect as well as comparison and contrast. For example, some questions and activities may include:

What words state the main idea of the story?
How does the author summarize what she/he is saying?
Outlining the first paragraph of the story.
What happened first, second and last?
How are these things alike? How are they different?
What things belong together?


Inferential comprehension deals with what the author means by what is said. The reader must simply read between the lines and make inferences about things not directly stated. Again these inferences are made in the main idea, supporting details, sequence, and cause and effect relationships. Inferential comprehension could also involve interpreting figurative language, drawing conclusions, predicting outcomes, determining the mood, and judging the author’s point of view. The following questions are usually asked:

What does the author value?
What is the theme?
What effect does this character/event have on the story?
How do you think this story will end?


Critical comprehension concerns itself with why the author says what he or she says. This high level of comprehension requires the reader to use some external criteria from his/her own experience in order to evaluate the quality, values of the writing, the author’s reasoning, simplifications, and generalizations. The reader will react emotionally and intellectually with the material. Because everyone's life experiences are varied, answers to some of the following questions will vary:

Could this possibly happen?
Is this argument logical?
What alternatives are there?
Is this a fact or an opinion?
Do you agree or disagree with the author?
What is the best solution to this problem?

To conclude, literal, inferential and critical comprehensive reading is what makes a skilled, strong reader. This skill must be learned and developed. It does not just happen. With that thought in mind, it has also been shown that strong readers make good writers. Sustained exposure to the English language does allow for an expanded vocabulary and knowledge of correct grammar usage. When this is combined with literal, inferential and critical reading experiences, it enables writers to better express themselves.

Comments 23 comments

Joan King profile image

Joan King 4 years ago

Very informative.

hutura profile image

hutura 4 years ago Author

Joan King:

I am glad you found the article helpful.

gabby 2 years ago

this is very useful information in english lanauage

gabby 2 years ago

Thanks for the encouraging comment.

ABBY 2 years ago

This information is very helpful

hutura profile image

hutura 2 years ago Author


It is always good to know someone is benefiting from my information.


rocky 23 months ago

lack of information! you better improve your article!

hutura profile image

hutura 23 months ago Author


It's obvious you are ignorant in the area of education.


nadine 23 months ago

What is this ? Is this rubbish

hutura profile image

hutura 23 months ago Author


This article is not rubbish. If you had the slightest idea about what education was about you would not even ask such an ignorant question. You have no idea what reading comprehension is or how to achieve it. As an educator, I see why the American school system is in such bad shape.

hutura profile image

hutura 21 months ago Author


I am glad this article was helpful to you.

Decency 16 months ago

Nice one, God bless you for this, thanks.

lloydie:P 15 months ago

thank you for the advance topics..God bless ^_^

alchris 15 months ago

It's a nice article. Thanks for the help.

hutura 14 months ago


Your positive comment is very much appreciated. Thanks.

mnt 14 months ago

how cite this article?

who is the writer?

hutura 14 months ago


I am an educator who has experience in the classroom and from developmental seminars. My knowledge of the subject comes from those sources.

che 14 months ago

i found this article very helpful and explanations are clearly expressed.

thank you so much for sharing your knowledge it helped me a lot.

hutura 14 months ago


Thank you for your kind remark.

dianamea alvia 2 months ago

thank you for this..

raheem hall 5 weeks ago

thanks for this

Sara 4 weeks ago

(; theme on literal level? theme on figuarative level?

hutura 4 weeks ago


I don't understand the comment. Do you need clarification on something?

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