When you write a paper, you use some information that you have read in books, journals, on the Internet, etc. Your teacher might have told you, “Use your own words.” In other words, even when you use someone else’s information, you are not allowed to use the words they wrote. You have to use your own. You have to say the same thing in a different way. This is called paraphrasing.
For example, if the book you are reading from says, “John Adams, who was involved in winning independence for the United States, was the second President.
” You cannot write those words in your paper. You cannot even write, “John Adams, a man involved in winning independence for the United States, was its second President.” One way that you could re-write it is to say, “The second American President, John Adams, was also influential in gaining freedom for the country.”
However, in spite of being told to use your own words, you might not know how to do it.
There are a variety of techniques you can use. You can change the words for words of similar meaning; you can change the grammar; you can change the grammar or grammatical forms. In this reading, you will learn about ways that you can paraphrase.
Methods of Paraphrasing
Before you even begin to paraphrase, you need to make certain that you understand what you are reading. If you do not understand what you read, you cannot paraphrase it.
There are six ways that you can change sentences to paraphrase the information. You will probably not use all of them in the same sentence, but you can use ones that are appropriate. (In each of the examples, only one change is made. This is not enough if you are actually paraphrasing.) Read about each type of change, and look at the examples. Then make that type of change in the sample sentences that follow.
Changing Word Order
One way you can change a sentence for paraphrasing is to change the word order. For example, you might change “Because I slept too late, I missed my first class” to “I missed my first class because I slept too late,” or “In order to pass that class, I had to study very hard” to “I had to study very hard in order to pass that class.” It is sometimes necessary to change the wording of the parts of the sentences. For example, “Terry wanted more books, but he couldn’t afford them,” can be changed to “Terry couldn’t afford more books, even though he wanted them.”
1. If you’re going to New York for Christmas, be sure to take warm clothes. __Be sure to take warm clothes, if you’re going to New York for Christmas.___________ ________________________________________________________________________________
2. Even though the weather was good, Joan was in a bad mood. ___Joan was in a bad mood, even though the weather was good._____________________ ________________________________________________________________________________
3. I had no money, so I borrowed some.
__I borrowed some money, because I had none._____________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________
Changing Parts of Speech
You can also change parts of speech. If the sentence uses a noun, you can rewrite the sentence to use the verb or adjective form of the word, for example. You can change “Fifty-four men signed the Declaration of Independence” to “Fifty-four men put their signatures on the Declaration of Independence.”
1. The company needs to find a solution for this problem.
__The company needs to solve this problem.______________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ 2. The poor economy has been the cause of high unemployment. ___The poor economy has caused high unemployment.______________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ 3. If you eat rabbit, you will find its taste like chicken. __If you eat rabbit, you will find it tastes like chicken.______________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________
English has many synonyms — words that have the same or similar meanings — so another way you can paraphrase is to change one word for a synonym. For example, you could change “Movies can be divided into three categories” to “Movies can be divided into three types.”
1. The way a person dresses affects the impression that other people have. __ The way a person dresses influences the image that other people have.___ ________________________________________________________________________________ 2. That phrase means “in a happy way.”
___That expression means “in a cheerful way.”_____________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________
3. There is little chance that the situation will improve.
___There is little possibility that the circumstances will get better.__________________ ________________________________________________________________________________
Using Negatives or Opposite Expressions
Another way to paraphrase is to change a positive expression into a negative expression, or a negative expression into a positive expression. You could change “Rather than building a traditional memorial, the city built a park” to “The city did not build a traditional memorial; instead it built a park.”
1. Shaun was disappointed, because the movie wasn’t very good. ___Shaun wasn’t satisfied, because the movie wasn’t very good.______________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ 2. Japan is not a small country, compared to European countries. __Japan is a large country, compared to European countries.________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ 3. Geri wanted some candy, but there wasn’t any in the bowl. __Geri wanted some candy, but the bowl was empty.________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________
Combining or Separating Sentences
Long sentences can be divided, and short sentences can be combined with other short sentences. You can change “Ireland is a wonderful country, which has beautiful scenery, friendly people, and an interesting history” to “Ireland is a wonderful country. It has beautiful scenery, friendly people, and an interesting history.” You can also change “Ireland is a wonderful country. It has beautiful scenery, friendly people, and an interesting history” to “Ireland, which is a wonderful country, has beautiful scenery, friendly people, and an interesting history.”
1. Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII. She is one of England’s most famous queens. __Elizabeth I, who was the daughter of Henry VIII, was one of England’s most________ __famous queens.________________________________________________________________ 2. This book is about a woman who pretended to be a man to join the army in World War II. It is one of Lynn’s favorite books. ___This book, which is one of Lynn’s favorites, is about a woman who pretended to___ ___be a man to join the army in World War II.______________________________________ 3. If you go to London, you should be sure to visit Westminster Abbey, where many of the kings and queens of England, as well as other famous people, are buried. __If you go to London, you should be sure to visit Westminster Abbey. Many kings and_ __queens of England are buried there. Other famous people are buried there, too.______
Using Different Grammar – Structure, Voice
You can paraphrase by changing the grammar of a sentence, for example, but changing from active voice (“The dog bit the man”) to passive voice (“The man was bitten by the dog”) or by making other changes in the grammar. You can change “It is not unusual for June to be a rainy month here” to “June is often a rainy month here,” or “It is thought that this new plan will save money” to “Many people think that this new plan will save money.”
1. Various languages are spoken in this country.
__The people of this country speak various languages._______________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ 2. Frank studied French, and, as a result, he translated for our visitors from France. __Frank could translate for our visitors from France, because he had studied French.__ ________________________________________________________________________________ 3. Tom McGovern got married three times and had five children. ___Tom McGovern had three wives and was the father of five._______________________ ________________________________________________________________________________
Read the following sentences and paraphrase them, combining the techniques that you learned in this article. 1. Gone with the Wind, which was published in 1936, covered 12 years of the life of a woman named Scarlett O’Hara during and after the Civil War. It began when she was 16 year old and tells the story of her love for two men. ___Published in 1936, Gone with the Wind was the story of Scarlett O’Hara and the___ ___two men she loved. It covers Scarlett’s life from the time she was 16 until she was__ ___28, during the Civil War and the years that followed.____________________________