What Did He Say? – Paraphrasing

I have been thinking about how to best teach paraphrasing.  Here are some guidelines.

  1. Always tell your reader where the idea comes from.  When paraphrasing it is poor form to act as if the idea were your own. Citations usually include (at a minimum) who said it first.  Sometimes you will also need to include the website, book title, or the occasion of a speech.
  1. Consider keeping the tone the same.  This helps keep the meaning true to the original author’s writing and sentiment.
  1. Change the words, use synonyms.  You can even use “not” and an antonym.
  1. Change the order of the sentence.  This may mean active becomes passive or passive becomes active.  This may mean to re-write the subject as an object and make the object your sentence’s subject.  Can you arrange a list in order of what you consider most important?
  1. If the original sentence used a figurative phrasing, you may add clarity by making your paraphrasing very literal.  Similarly, you can change a literal wording to a figurative one (as long as your sentence is not some monster of a metaphor).
  1. Play with verb tenses.  Can what you seek to paraphrase be changed from present to past tense while keeping the meaning the same?
  1. Summarize!  This is perhaps the most valuable thing you can do for your reader.  Take the original text and make it shorter and easier to read, use, and remember.  Remove excess words from the original.  Where there is a phrase and just one word would capture the meaning—use it!

    Just for practice – try paraphrasing his article

Author Information: Guest Blogger “The Professor” is a loyal reader who has offered to share this short article with our readers. For many years “The Professor” has taught English, and ESL at the college level , both in this country and overseas. Thank you for sharing some great information, Professor!

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or emailgail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

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Guest Blogger - "The Professor"