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5 Simple Steps to Better Paraphrasing

Photo by pakorn. Published on 04 December 2013 Stock photo - Image ID: 100221661.

Photo by pakorn. Published on 04 December 2013
Stock photo – Image ID: 100221661.

In America, we get rather uptight about the ownership of words. If you copy someone else’s words and pretend they are yours, you could get expelled from school or university. People even lose their jobs over the matter. Being able to rewrite someone else’s words is not easy, I know. However, practicing it regularly is an effective way to not only improve your paraphrasing skills but your English proficiency as well.  Let’s practice, using a sentence from the Kindle edition of Oxford Bookworm’s Gulliver’s Travels (2012) and some ideas from LEAP: Advanced (2013) by Cambridge University Press, page 116.

The wind and waves pushed me along as I struggled to keep my head above water.

1. Change the vocabulary. Instead of “wind and waves”, you could say, “ocean waves” or “the surge of the sea” or “the blowing air and moving sea”.  Other suitable verbs could also be found for “pushed me along” or “struggled”. For example, an alternative to “pushed me along” could be “carried me”;

2. Change the form of the word. For example, instead of using “struggled” as a verb, you could use it as a noun.

3. Change the word order. Why not start with, “Keeping my head above water was a struggle…”

4. Change the verb tense. Instead of the “wind and waves pushed me”, you could use the passive voice and write, “I was pushed by the wind and waves.”

5. Combine two or more of these together to form your paraphrase. A final paraphrase might be something like this,

“Keeping my head above water was a struggle, as the movement of the sea and air carried me along.”

I know this seems tedious and way too much work. No wonder we are tempted to paraphrase!  However, it is a skill that gets much easier with practice. Why not practice today. Here’s another  sentence from the same book

I’d also write down everything important that happened over the years, so that students of history would come to me for help.  (Swift, 2008).

Why not write a paraphrase in the comments?

Swith, Jonathan (2008-02-18). Gulliver's Travels: 1400 Headwords (Oxford Bookworms Library) (Kindle Locations 85-86). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
Williams, Julia (2013). LEAP: Advanced. Montreal, Quebec: Cambridge University Press.





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