Study these 5 paraphrasing examples to learn how to paraphrase when writing research papers and essays.
When writing a research paper or other project, you often need to work with other people’s writing. While you could easily put together a piece using many direct quotations, learning how to take someone else’s work and paraphrase it in your own words is valuable in your writing toolbox.
A good paraphrase keeps the author’s main ideas intact but says them differently. It shows that you have fully understood the information and can rephrase it to fit your overall piece’s writing style and tone.
As you learn to paraphrase, remember that you must still cite the original author. Unless the idea you are referencing is common knowledge in the field you are writing about, you must tell where the idea came from. In-text citations, as well as a bibliography page, are both essential.
As you consider how to change the wording of the original piece to fit your writing, looking at different paraphrasing examples will help you get a feel for what this rewriting looks like.
1. Paraphrasing Sentences by Changing Verb Tense
One way to paraphrase is to change the verb tense of the source material. For example, if it is written in passive voice, you could change it to active voice. If written in the past tense, you could change it to present or future tense.
Here are some examples:
- Original: Giraffes will eat Acacia leaves and hay, eating up to 75 pounds a day. (future tense)
- Paraphrase: A giraffe eats up to 75 pounds daily, including Acacia leaves and hay. (present tense)
- Original: Influenza can cause a runny nose and fever. (active voice)
- Paraphrase: People with influenza have experienced fevers and runny noses. (passive voice)
Changing the tense of the verbs may be all you need to do to adjust the sentence enough for it to be a paraphrase.
2. Paraphrasing Sentences by Using Synonyms
Another way to paraphrase your original passage for your research paper is to use synonyms for words. This will convey the same meaning without using the original author’s exact words. Remember that you still need to provide a citation using MLA or APA formatting to avoid plagiarism if the idea is the same as the source, but using synonyms is a great restatement option. Here are some examples:
- Original: In Santiago, COVID-19 dealt the hardest blow to people with low socioeconomic status, because of factors such as crowded households, a lack of health care, and an inability to work from home.
- Paraphrase: Because few people could telecommute, medical care was hard to get, and homes were crowded with people, the coronavirus pandemic hurt Santiago’s poorer people worse than other economic groups.
- Original: Paul McCrory, a prominent researcher whose work on concussions has shaped much of the sporting world’s current policies on diagnosing and treating head injuries, resigned March 5 from his role as chair of the Concussion in Sport Group following allegations of plagiarism.
- Paraphrase: Paul McCrory, concussion researcher who put a lot of work into the athletic world’s policies on head injury diagnostics and treatment, left his position as head of the Concussion in Sport Group on March 5 after accusations of plagiarism.
As long as the source is properly cited, these are appropriate paraphrases in academic writing.
3. Paraphrasing An Original Work by Changing the Writing Style
Sometimes the goal of paraphrasing is to improve the accessibility of the work. You can take a scientific research study, for instance, and boil it down into its main points, using a more accessible tone and writing style in your own words to present the information. Again, as long as you use the APA pr MLA format to cite the paraphrased text, you can use this technique to present ideas in your writing.
Here are some examples:
- Original: When we go to the zoo, we may see penguins if the exhibit is open.
- Paraphrase: If the penguin house is open, we may be able to observe the birds on our visit to the zoo.
- Original: Many people reported symptoms of anxiety after the terrorist attack.
- Paraphrase: The terrorist attack caused anxiety symptoms in a number of the people.
- Original: For example, one study showed that food insufficiency was independently associated with all symptoms of poor mental health, but that association was mitigated for those who received free groceries or meals.
- Paraphrase: People who do not have enough to eat may struggle with their mental health, but free groceries or meals can help limit this problem.
These examples keep the sentence’s meaning but change the writing style to make it the writer’s own.
4. Paraphrasing Paragraphs
When you need to paraphrase an entire paragraph, you will likely use a combination of these techniques to rewrite the passage in your own words. Keep in mind that without citation, this is still considered plagiarism. Here are some examples:
- Original: The adolescent finds himself faced with multiple questions, contradictory demands, and ideas, which force him to deal with multiple conflicts, especially in light of physical, mental, social, psychological, emotional, and family changes. If these changes are negative, it will result in the failure of the adolescent to successfully form his identity, in addition to facing many problems such as social role disorder, identity confusion, or the adoption of negative identity, harming the adolescent’s life and future.
- Paraphrase: According to a 2021 Heliyon study, teenagers often face questions of identity, and they can have conflicting ideas about who they are and where they fit in society. The changes they face as they grow and develop, if they are negative, can cause them to have a poor identity formation. This problem can lead to challenges as the adolescent grows into adulthood.
- Original: In the immediate wake of a traumatic experience, large numbers of affected people report distress, including new or worsening symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Most people will recover, though that recovery can take some time. A notable fraction of people will develop chronic symptoms severe enough to meet criteria for a mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depressive disorder.
- Paraphrase: The National Institutes of Health warms that a traumatic experience, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, will cause a large number of mental health problems. People often report their symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, getting worse. Though recovery happens for many, it does take time, and some people will have problems like PTSD or major depressive disorder that require mental health treatment.
In these examples, the paraphrased writing seems easier for the average reader to understand, with less industry-specific jargon.
5. Paraphrasing an Entire Work
Finally, you can paraphrase an entire work by boiling its main points into a more concise format. If you shorten the work significantly, you are summarizing, not paraphrasing. However, this idea deserves a spot on this list because it is a way to use a source in your writing without using direct quotes. Here are some examples:
- Original: The first book in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
- Paraphrase: In this classic piece of children’s literature, a young boy wizard named Harry must go to battle against an enemy, Voldemort, who has been trying to kill him since birth.
- Original: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
- Paraphrase: Two star-crossed lovers from opposing families try to find a life together, only to end in tragic death because of their warring families.
When paraphrasing in this way, you can cite by stating the name of the work and the author at the beginning of the passage, then including the work on your bibliography page.
To learn more about paraphrasing, check out our guide on plagiarism vs. paraphrasing.
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