Paraphrasing involves taking a set of facts or opinions and rewording them. When paraphrasing, it is important to keep the original meaning and to present it in a new form. Basically, you are simply writing something in your own words that expresses the original idea.
Paraphrasing can be done with individual sentences or entire paragraphs. There are several examples of paraphrasing listed below for both long and short blocks of text.
Here are some sentences that have been paraphrased:
Duke's online website provides many examples of paraphrasing in order to help students understand the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism.
Here is an example of paraphrasing of a longer passage taken from the Duke website.
In The Sopranos, the mob is besieged as much by inner infidelity as it is by the federal government. Early in the series, the greatest threat to Tony's Family is his own biological family. One of his closest associates turns witness for the FBI, his mother colludes with his uncle to contract a hit on Tony, and his kids click through Web sites that track the federal crackdown in Tony's gangland.
In the first season of The Sopranos, Tony Soprano’s mobster activities are more threatened by members of his biological family than by agents of the federal government. This familial betrayal is multi-pronged. Tony’s closest friend and associate is an FBI informant, his mother and uncle are conspiring to have him killed, and his children are surfing the Web for information about his activities.
The main point of this passage is that problems within the family are as bad as or even worse than problems caused by the federal government. Details about this betrayal include one family member turning informant, a hit being put out on Tony by family members, and Tony’s kids tracking his activities.
Here is a summary of some of the changes made during the paraphrasing process:
There is a fine line between plagiarism and paraphrasing. If the wording of the paraphrase is too close to the wording of the original content, then it is plagiarism. The main ideas need to come through, but the wording has to be your own.
To use another person’s writing in your own can be accomplished with quotes and citations. A quote will need to be the exact wording and the author and source will need to be identified.
Paraphrasing usually makes the passage shorter than the original. Another option is to use a summary that is much shorter than the original and is an overview of the main points.