What Does Paraphrasing Mean and Do Why We Use It

Paraphrase Meanings and Conclusions

Have you ever been asked to paraphrase something? It can be tricky, especially if you’ve never done it before. Paraphrasing is a valuable academic skill, and yet may people weren’t taught how to do it correctly.

That’s why we have put together a guide for you that will help you understand and use paraphrasing correctly and ensure you won’t become one of those people in plagiarism jokes and memes.

The Meaning of Paraphrasing

What is paraphrasing? In brief, paraphrasing is when you take someone else’s words and filter them through your own brain to change the words used. Or: Paraphrasing is the art of rephrasing a piece of writing using your own words.

As you can see, the second sentence is a paraphrase of the first! The two mean essentially the same thing, and yet they use totally different phrasing. That’s what paraphrasing is.

Why Paraphrase?

So now that you know of this skill and its meaning, why do you need it? Well, because you can’t always quote someone directly. For instance, when you’re citing a paper, sometimes you don’t want to work a specific quote in. In those circumstances, you might paraphrase the point you’re using. Likewise, sometimes you’re not in a position to be able to quote directly. If you can’t remember precisely what was said, paraphrasing is a good way to keep the essential meaning and yet still not have to use the exact same words. Paraphrasing can also help you avoid plagiarism. If you’ve been asked to give a description of someone’s argument, you’ll have to paraphrase it. Otherwise, you’ll just be using their words over again, which is both unhelpful and technically plagiarism.

answer to what does paraphrasing mean

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Finally, paraphrasing can give you a more complete understanding of someone’s argument. You have to have a complete grasp of what they’re saying in order to paraphrasing. So, finding new words for something can help you take it apart and see the inside of it. Then you’ll put it back together and have a complete grasp.

The Dos and Don’ts of Paraphrasing

So how can you get started with paraphrasing? We have a list of three do’s and three don’ts that you should follow for paraphrasing success.


  1. Use synonyms: did your author say “hot”? You can say “warm”. Did your author say “appalling”? You can say “awful”. Use a thesaurus if you’re not quite sure what word to use. As you practice it’ll get easier.
  2. Use compensatory strategies: when you’re lost for a synonym, you can use what’s called a compensatory strategy. Take “This study was dull” and turn it into “this study was not very interesting”.
  3. Change the sentence structure: “It was a cold morning” can become “On this morning, the weather was rather chilly”. Change the placement of the sentence sections – mention things in a different order. When combined with the above two strategies, the paraphrased sentence will look totally different but have the same meaning.


  1. Leave anything out: when you’re paraphrasing, unlike when you’re summarizing, it’s crucial to include everything in the original piece. No matter how inessential you think something is, it’s got to stay.
  2. Include your own opinion: paraphrasing is only rephrasing what was said. You aren’t allowed to insert your own opinion on the thing that’s being discussed.
  3. Change the meaning: when you’re paraphrasing, you cannot remove, insert, or change anything about the meaning. Think of it like Legos. You can take the blocks apart and put them back together a different way, but you can’t leave any out, put new ones in, or repaint the existing ones to look different.

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Learn How to Paraphrase

The best way to learn these skills is to practice. Take something you enjoy reading, or even something you’ve heard like a song or a television script, and rephrase it sentence by sentence by sentence. You’ll soon become an experienced paraphraser. You’ll be able to use the skill in many areas of your life. Set yourself up for success with paraphrasing practice.

If you’re still asking what does paraphrasing mean, contact us now and become an enlightened paraphraser.