The Difference Between Inference & Prediction

reading-childThe Difference Between Inference & Prediction

by TeachThought Staff

Reading comprehension is a core tenet of schooling. The new Common Core Standards in the United States pace an increasing emphasis on reading, requiring for it to be taught across content areas, rather than simply in English-Language Arts classes. (Or through Reading comprehension apps, for example.)

This means math, science, social studies, and even technology teachers will soon be in on the challenging–and rewarding–task of helping students better understand what they’re reading.

Which made the following anchor chart from pinterest user teachingwithamountainview immediately relevant to almost any K-12 teacher.

The Difference Between Inference & Prediction

Understanding the difference between inference and prediction is one of classic challenges in literacy instruction, in addition to the difference between main idea and theme, mood and tone, and reading versus deep reading, and so on. Some of it is a mater of jargon. An argument could be made that, like main idea and theme, that distinguishing between the two is more trouble than it’s worth.

But if we are truly teaching students to close read a variety of texts and digital media, understanding the nuance of reading ourselves as teachers of all content areas is important.

So what’s the distinction? Ultimately, the difference between inference and prediction is one of fulfillment: while itself a kind of inference, a prediction is an educated guess (often about explicit details) that can be confirmed or denied, an inference is more concerned with the implicit.

In general, if it’s discussing a future event or something that can be explicitly verified within the “natural course of things,” it’s a prediction. If it’s a theory formed around implicit analysis based on evidence and clues, it’s an inference.

Both inferences and predictions require students to combine clues, evidence, and background knowledge to form a theory.

This has always been our understanding of things anyway. Let us know in the comments section if you think of it differently.


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really didn’t help she gave me some stuff that I already knew





Second grade teacher

Two main things that stand out for me- one aspect I see differently and the other I really appreciate. First, I do not agree with the title of the chart ‘Making Inferences, Not Predictions’. It is misleading and I actually followed a pin on pinterest because i didn’t understand what that meant at first. I didn’t feel that the point should be about pitting the two comprehension strategies against each other, but rather comparing them for ourselves to better understand them, in order to be more effective teachers of reading, especially in light of Common Core. After the title, the… Read more »


popcorn master is the beset kind of inferring


Nice article – however, we also need to be sure that we are using the term “theory” correctly. An inference made by an individual student can not be a theory.