Know How to Paraphrase

One of the best ways to avoid plagiarism (illegal copying of other source material) is knowing how to paraphrase. When you paraphrase, you take another person’s words and ideas, but express them in your own way.

However, many people think they are paraphrasing when in fact they are still plagiarizing. This is yet another reason plagiarism is a tricky subject—it is entirely possible to plagiarize without realizing you are making this mistake. Let’s focus on the main rules and ideas of paraphrasing:

  •         Change all verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
  •         Change the structure of the sentence.
  •         You may keep nouns because a thing is what it is.

Here is an example:

If he is wrong about this project, then our funding will be severely cut.

Here is an acceptable paraphrasing:

Being incorrect about this project could cause an end to our funding.

  •         The if/then structure is changed.
  •         The adjective wrong is turned into incorrect.
  •         The verb cut is expressed as cause an end.
  •         Notice that project and funding can stay because they are nouns, and nouns may remain the same.

Remember: you are not always trying to include every detail from the source material. Often, you just want to use some of the facts or main ideas, but not every tiny detail. Keep it simple and focus on the main changes you need to make!

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