I am having a little trouble to understand the word "context". I used to think I understood it--it's in everyday talk but when I have to describe what it really means, I kind of struggle.

I found this definition but it is not giving me the full meaning. Probably it is me rather than the definition!

CONTEXT (kɒntɛkst)
The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.
Example: "the proposals need to be considered in the context of new European directives"
Synonyms: circumstances, conditions, surroundings, factors, state of affairs

The parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.
Example: "skilled readers use context to construct meaning from words as they are read"

Would you say these sentences express the same context:
- John plays a computer game. John changes his mind and plays Basketball.
- Tom plays Need for Speed. Tom has changed his preferences and he plays Tennis.

Or simple examples:
Boy kicks the ball. Girl kicks the ball. Boy kicked the cat. Girl kicked the boy.

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    Those examples aren't context. It's hard to actually explain, i've realised! Context can be background information that removes ambiguity or confusion, as in "in the context of war, his behaviour was excusable" would mean that it was only excusable because of war. It's not an action (eg neither changing one's mind or kicking are context) – marcellothearcane Mar 21 '17 at 16:36
  • Context provides perspective. Context provides explanation or justification for something. It provides a way that helps uou understand. – vickyace Mar 21 '17 at 17:08
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    Context: the situation within which something exists or happens, and that can help explain it. – mahmud k pukayoor Mar 21 '17 at 17:31
  • The overall context is the Universe. But narrow it down, eliminating those factors which either are judged irrelevant or which your reader can easily guess at. So narrowing this note own to "the internet" is probably not real helpful, since that's obvious. But saying that this note is replying to an EL&U question asking "What does 'context' mean?" gets a lot narrower, with a higher "information content". But perhaps a bit too narrow, since the reader would want to know which particular aspect of "context" the OP did not understand. – Hot Licks Mar 22 '17 at 1:17
  • The context would help us understand why the boy kicked the cat. Without the context, the sentence is isolated, and we have no idea what's going on. – aparente001 Mar 23 '17 at 5:44

Let's use one of the cases in your question and, by example see how it helps with understanding;

John was beaten badly, while playing a computer game. He decided he would rather play basketball.

John was beaten badly by the school bully while playing basketball. He decided it would be safer to play a computer game.

The difference in how John was beaten is determined by the context:

In one context, being beaten in a game can mean losing the game. Furthermore, deciding he would rather play something else adds to the context, where one imagines he might enjoy himself more.

In the other context, being beaten by the bully and seeking something safer are part of the context that lead us to conclude that being beaten means to be physically harmed.

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From the examples you give, it seems that you are thinking of "context" as grammatical structure, such as noun-verb-direct object. It's not grammar, it's the setting--the surroundings, as the dictionary definitions say.
For example, what is the meaning of the word "right"? It depends on context. If the context is a question such as "Is it right to steal?", the opposite of right is wrong, and "right" means "moral" or "ethical."
If you're driving a car and your passenger tells you to turn right at the next street, "right" is a direction--turn right instead of going straight or left. So we don't know how to use a word, or what the word means, until we know the context in which it is going to be used.

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