The Importance of Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing is a crucial skill both in the professional and the academic world. You probably already use paraphrasing when you talk about something that someone said but can’t remember the exact words. Likewise, you’ll want to learn how to harness this skill when using someone else’s words for the purpose of making a point. We’ve put together a list of techniques that can help you learn professional paraphrasing.
Our List of Paraphrasing Methods
Using more than three of the same words in the same order as the author you’re paraphrasing counts as plagiarism! Technically, not changing structure enough can also cause you to plagiarize. So what can you do? Here’s our list of tips.
- Change to synonym: “Hot” may become “warm” and “cold” may become “cool”.
- Change to negated antonym: “Very dull” might become “not very interesting”.
- Change specific to general or vice versa: “A surgeon and an optometrist were sitting on each side of my bus seat” might become “Both the seats beside me were occupied by doctors”. It’s generally easier to go specific-to-general, since you can easily remove detail but adding what’s not given is difficult.
- Change voice: Active voice can become passive voice or the other way around. “The man was caught by the police” might be rephrased as “The police captured their man at last,” for instance.
- Change person: When paraphrasing something in first person, you’ll generally change it to third person, so “I” becomes “he” or “she”. This is not so much a technique as a necessity unless you’re asked not to.
- Change word forms: Adjectives can become nouns and adverbs can become adjectives. For instance, “She’s a fast runner” can become “she runs quite quickly”.
- Change clause to phrase or vice versa: “After he finished his homework, Tom went to play” could become “Tom finished his homework and then went to play”.
- Change quoted phrase to an indirect one and vice versa: ‘She said, “I want something to eat”’ can become “She said that she was hungry”.
- Change transition words: ‘But’ can become ‘however’ and ‘subsequently’ can become ‘then’.
- Play with numbers: Twelve can become a dozen; one hundred years can become a century; three decades can become thirty years.
- Combine sentences: “He didn’t know what to do. He felt that his dog might never return.” might become “He wondered helplessly whether he’d ever see his dog again.”
- Split sentences: “Her mother died that night, and afterwards she found herself wondering what the point of life was” might become “That night, her mother died. It cast her into a fit of existential pondering.”
- Idioms and metaphors: Was someone said to have “kicked the bucket”? You might simply state that they died. Alternately, if they were said to have died, you might say that they passed away.
- Interpret meaning: This is a skill for the really advanced paraphraser. You can infer what people mean when they speak and state that instead of what was said. For instance: ‘“I’m not angry,” Mrs. McGinty said, her eyes alight with happiness as she gazed upon her prodigal son.’ could become “Mrs McGinty was delighted that her son had returned.’
- Combine multiple techniques: For best effects, use at least two of these techniques on any given thing you’re restating. Once you master each, you’ll find yourself easily able to combine them for great paraphrasing results.
Find Great Ways to Paraphrase
If you’re still struggling with paraphrasing, the best advice is to practice. Use what you’ve learned to paraphrase something fun, like a passage from a book you like or the lyrics to a song. It’s also okay to ask for help. Find someone you trust you who can help you. Our service is also available at all times to assist you in your growth. Do your future self a favor and learn to paraphrase effectively and avoid plagiarism. You won’t regret it.