The Definition of Paraphrasing and Its Uses

Tired of quoting from a source material directly? Are you looking to spice up your paper with your own style? Paraphrasing can be the answer you have been looking for.

Paraphrasing is an important tool for summing up the ideas from other sources without the unnecessary details that aren’t related to your topic. In this article, we are going to go over the definition of paraphrasing and its uses in academia to help you use them yourself.

Definition of Paraphrasing

a person writing something on Macbook Pro using Google Docs.
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Paraphrasing is when someone uses their own words to express another person’s message or information. Paraphrasing is a term used to describe a sentence or paragraph, and the paraphrased article must be understood correctly.

It is important to paraphrase an article, especially in research papers, in order to avoid copying the actual article. However, paraphrases require a little practice before utilizing them in your assignments.

Paraphrasing takes a passage and employs different words or phrases to convey the same meaning. Paraphrases substitute the writing for new words in their own way.

Paraphrases have to use unique wording, which is distinct from the source. Because they are unique, paraphrases don’t use quotation marks as direct quotes do.

The Guideline for Paraphrasing

You may read the text two or three times until you are sure you understand it. After that, try to write down the main ideas in your own words. Don’t forget to say what the article says, but no more, and try to reproduce the article’s order of concept and emphasis.

Look closely at unfamiliar words and observe carefully how the writer uses them.

As often as needed, compare your paraphrase with the original to ensure it has an accurate tone and meaning. Make sure you change any words or phrases that match closely. If the paraphrase is too similar to the original, it is plagiarism.

To be able to refer to the previous works, include a citation (including the page numbers). You have to give credit to the original author even if you paraphrase.

Why Paraphrase in the First Place?

What’s the point in paraphrasing when you can just quote the original article? Paraphrasing can be helpful in many different situations.

Occasionally you don’t want to rewrite the original text in your own words – maybe you want it to fit into your personal style. If you want, paraphrasing gives you the opportunity to pick your own words while keeping the main idea central.

Paraphrasing is helpful if you like the words in the original passage but want to change the subjects to apply to something else. 

Is Paraphrasing Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is caused by rewriting someone’s text without changing the words. If you would like to repeat a sentiment or cite another person’s research, you must either quote or use your own words. 

In this sense, paraphrasing is no different than direct quotations. As long as you cite the articles you used in a clear manner, it is not plagiarism.

To Wrap Up

Paraphrasing is a powerful tool in academic tasks.

Paraphrases should have the same meaning as the original article but with new words. If you feel strongly about another author’s opinions, you should express them in your own style.

When writing essays, research papers, and other academic assignments, you must produce authentic documents in your own words. And paraphrasing is the perfect way to do so.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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