How to Write a Paraphrase (Without Plagiarizing a Thing)
Paraphrasing (or paraphrase) is a retelling of another piece of literature using new phrases or words while maintaining the same content and meaning, typically changing the language or avoiding plagiarism. “To be or not to be,” for example, maybe rephrased as “Is it better to exist or not exist at all?”
Paraphrasing is a crucial communication method to avoid replicating a source directly, especially in research articles. On the other hand, learning how to paraphrase takes some experience, so we’ve broken down what you need to know, starting with a basic definition.
What is the definition of a paraphrase?
Paraphrasing is the process of taking an original passage and expressing the same concept with alternative words or phrases. A paraphrase essentially rewrites the original material in its style.
A paraphrase always employs original wording, which you devised independently of the source. Paraphrases, unlike direct quotes, do not require quotation marks because they are unique.
What exactly is the point of paraphrasing?
When you can quote the actual source instead of paraphrasing, why bother? Paraphrasing is useful in a range of scenarios due to its numerous advantages. Here are six of the most popular reasons to paraphrase:
1 Make better word choices
Sometimes you want to rewrite the original content in your own words—perhaps to match your writing style or simply because you prefer your own word choices. In any event, paraphrasing allows you to use your own words or phrases while keeping the message’s fundamental message intact.
2 Alter the topic matter
If you appreciate the original passage’s wording but wish to change the subject to something different, paraphrasing comes in handy. For example, comedian Jim Gaffigan’s famous comment, “I never met a man I didn’t like,” is frequently parodied, sometimes jokingly, as in “I never met a cheeseburger I didn’t like.”
3 Do not plagiarize
Plagiarism is when you rewrite someone else’s text without changing the wording. You must at least say it in your own words or quote it directly if you want to repeat a sentiment or mention another person’s study, but overusing quotes can also be problematic, as we will see later.
4 Use quotes sparingly.
When the author says it best themselves, quotations are fantastic, but you’re effectively copying someone else’s work when you use too many. To make a piece of writing your own, vary between paraphrasing and direct quotes if you’re frequently referring to other people’s work.
5. Use language that is not offensive.
A straight quote’s terminology may not always be appropriate for what you’re writing. A mechanical error, such as a partial quote with the incorrect subject-verb agreement or gender pronoun, is frequently the cause.
It could also be insensitive or out-of-date wording. For example, the famous (yet old-fashioned) statement “a decent guy is hard to find” can be rephrased as “a good partner is hard to find” in today’s language.
6 Condense long quotes
Finally, paraphrasing comes in handy when you need to compress a long, lengthy-phrase into something more digestible. The word pays some authors, but if you’re producing anything that needs to be brief, you can paraphrase their original material more effectively.
What’s the difference between summarizing and paraphrasing?
Because paraphrasing and summarizing are two similar and related concepts, it’s understandable that they’re frequently misunderstood.
Think about them this way to tell them apart: Summarizing is putting a text or passage’s main idea, topic, or tale into your own words, whereas paraphrasing is putting an individual passage into your terms.
Summarizing involves the big picture, such as an entire body of work or a chapter. In contrast, paraphrasing involves specific parts, ranging from a few words to a few paragraphs but not exceedingly long. Summaries are always shorter than the source, whereas paraphrases are usually the same length as, if not slightly shorter than, the source.
Another distinction is that summaries tend to gloss over the information, as we noted when discussing how to write a summary. In contrast, paraphrases can still include everything as long as it’s reworded.
Examples of how to paraphrase
One of the five most effective ways to avoid plagiarism is paraphrasing, but how can you express the same thing without using the same words? Here are some simple tactics for a good paraphrase that we recommend using together:
1 Make use of synonyms
Replace keywords in an original section with synonyms, such as “scientist” for “researcher” or “seniors” for “the elderly.” This is a systematic method of paraphrasing; however, it isn’t sufficient in and of itself. To make your writing appear new, combine this method with some of the ones listed below.
Text in its original form:
Some plants release certain fragrances to warn their plant neighbors that they are being attacked.
Some plants generate distinct odors to alert other plants to the presence of danger.
2 Swap out the different components of speech
You can sometimes change the parts of speech in a sentence, such as converting a gerund to the operative verb or transforming an adjective to an adverb. Because this method is dependent on the original passage’s wording, you may not always have the opportunity to use it; we also recommend combining it with other strategies here for more creative writing.
Text in its original form:
Because they retain heat, polar bears are nearly undetectable by infrared cameras.
Because of their unusual heat conservation, infrared cameras have difficulty detecting polar bears.
3 Arrange the structure in a new way
To make fresh new sentences, change the sequence of particular phrases and clauses, or mix and match them from existing sentences. Although it may be tempting to employ the passive voice when paraphrasing, do so only when necessary.
Text in its original form:
There are 50,000,000,000 galaxies in the visible cosmos.
The known cosmos is made up of fifty billion galaxies.
4 Replace or add components
Remove any parts of a quote that aren’t related to what you’re writing about and rephrase the rest in your own words. Similarly, you can personalize an old quotation by adding your spin to it to contextualize or adapt it to your theme. In either case, make sure to rewrite everything that originates from the source.
Text in its original form:
After an hour, human eyes become accustomed to the darkness, but they are 100,000 times more sensitive to light.
If you sit in a dark room for long enough, your eyes will adjust and become 100,000 times more sensitive to light—but be careful when you turn it back on!
rephrasing frequently asked questions
Do you have specific questions about paraphrasing and how to do it? You’re not the only one who feels this way! Here are some of the most often asked paraphrase questions by people like you.
What is the definition of paraphrasing?
Replacing another author’s original material with your own words is paraphrasing. In essence, it is a fresh piece of writing having the same meaning as an existing piece of literature, rather than a direct quotation.
What does paraphrasing look like in practice?
“All men are created equal,” as stated in the US Declaration of Independence, might be rephrased more progressively as “All people are made equal.”
What is the best way to paraphrase a sentence?
Synonyms, modifying parts of speech, shifting sentence structure, and adding/removing specific sections are popular paraphrase approaches.
What characteristics distinguish a good paraphrase?
An excellent paraphrase retains the source’s meaning while using new words or phrases. It’s ideal for paraphrasing the sentiments of another author and expressing them in your unique way.
Make sure your writing is unique.
When writing essays, research papers, and other academic writing projects, you must submit unique and written documents in your own words.
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