What is Paraphrasing?

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When we watch television shows or hear stories and read news, we long to tell others about it. We share what we know to our friends, family or fellow workers and tell them what happened and how it happened, and why it happened. We recall the story, tell something about the main characters, the events that happened and important highlights using our own words. This is called "paraphrasing."
Paraphrasing is using your own words to express someone else's message or ideas. In paraphrasing, the ideas and meaning of the original source must be maintained; the main ideas need to come through, but the wording has to be your own.

A summary is a shortened version of a piece of writing. It is written in your own words and includes only the key points of the writing. A summary is much shorter than the original source.
A paraphrase is similar to a summary because you are rewriting the source in your own words. They key difference is that paraphrases include both key points and sub-points. Because a paraphrase includes detailed information it can sometimes be as long (if not longer) than the original source.
In either case, it's important to keep the meaning of the original source. You can't leave out words or add words to make the source fit into your paper if it changes the meaning. (www.kibin.com)
Contrary to what you might think, paraphrasing is not simply changing a few words.
In order to paraphrase, you will need to change words, but you just can't change the word "gathering” to "party” and call it a paraphrase like in the example below:


     There was a huge gathering prepared by the townsfolk to their local hero

Paraphrased (wrong)

     There was a huge party prepared by the townsfolk to their local hero
A properly written paraphrase expresses the ideas of a source or passage in your own words and sentence structure.


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1. R - ead a paragraph.
  • Read the original manuscript two or three times or until you are sure you understand it.
2. A - sk yourself: what was the main idea and details in this paragraph?
  • Put the original aside and try to write the main ideas in your own words. Say what the source says, but no more, and try to reproduce the source's order of ideas and emphasis. Look closely at unfamiliar words, observe carefully the exact sense in which the writer uses the words.
3. P - ut the main idea and details into your own words.
  • Check your paraphrase, as often as needed, against the original for accurate tone and meaning, changing any words or phrases that match the original too closely. If the wording of the paraphrase is too close to the wording of the original, then it is plagiarism. Include a citation for the source of the information (including the page numbers) so that you can cite the source accurately. Even when you paraphrase, you must still give credit to the original author.


Paraphrasing can be done with individual sentences or entire paragraphs. Here are some examples.

Original sentence:

"Her life spanned years of incredible change for women."

Paraphrased sentence:

Mary lived through an era of liberating reform for women.

Original sentence:

"Giraffes like Acacia leaves and hay, and they can consume 75 pounds of food a day."

Paraphrased sentence:

A giraffe can eat up to 75 pounds of Acacia leaves and hay every day.
Do you understand now what paraphrasing is? If yes, that is good. If not, don't worry the next parts of the lessons will help you understand what paraphrasing is.

Go to the next page  and see if you can do simple paraphrasing exercises.

Last modified: Monday, 20 June 2016, 7:37 AM