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WRITING GUIDES from BBC Skills wise

What is "paraphrasing"?

We can define paraphrasing as restating (or rewriting) someone else's ideas using our own words.
Often it is used to make the meaning clearer -- either to one's reader/audience, or to oneself.
What are some "paraphrasing skills"?

Here are some suggested paraphrasing strategies (adapted from Wecklser 1995): When
paraphrasing: Be sure to include all the information in the original excerpt. To paraphrase you can
do a number of things.

1. Use synonyms:

ORIGINAL: People think it is asocial to sit at a computer terminal at a cafe.

PARAPHRASE: People think it is anti-social to sit at a computer terminal at a cafe.

2. Use different forms of a word (noun --> verb; adverb --> adjective, etc.):

ORIGINAL: Many girls model themselves after their mothers.

PARAPHRASE: Many girls use their mothers as models.


3. Change the connectors/transitions, making sure to make any grammatical changes
that are necessary:

ORIGINAL: Computers are expensive; however, the prices are coming down.

PARAPHRASE: Computers are expensive, but the prices are coming down.

4. Change active sentences to passive ones (and vice-versa):

ORIGINAL: Most of the students of the IEI attended the fall picnic.

PARAPHRASE: The fall picnic was attended by most of the IEI students.

5. Change negative to affirmative, or vice-versa:

ORIGINAL: All the political parties disagreed on that particular issue.

PARAPHRASE: None of the political parties agreed on that particular issue.

6. Avoid giving your own opinion or new information when paraphrasing.


7. Avoid changing vocabulary items in certain fields, such as science, technology,
education, government, geography (but sometimes you can paraphrase some geographical
names), language, brand names, or ordinary, everyday words that have no synonyms, such
as dictionary, chair, or toothbrush.
8. To avoid plagiarism: ALWAYS cite your sources. You can do this by writing an
introductory clause (which can be written or spoken in several ways) which mentions the
author and title of your source, for example,
o In "Scientists Use Fiber Optic Network as Internet Alternative", the author
syas/writes/states/informs...
o Deborah Shapley, in an article entitled, "Scientists Use Fiber Optic Network as
Internet Alternative," expresses/ states/writes/etc....
9. If the information in the statement is common knowledge, you do not need to cite the
source. For example, if you heard about something of major importance on the six o'clock
news that was broadcast all over the country or world, citing the specific source is not
crucial, although you should cite specific details and statements about this happening.
10. BEWARE of using a bilingual dictionary or a thesaurus when you paraphrase, because
some synonyms are quite different in meaning or usage. (For instance, one dictionary
gives change, vary, convert, and transmute as synonyms, and then gives separate
definitions for each.)

ORIGINAL: Cybercafes are changing the face of coffee shops worldwide.

PARAPHRASE: Cybercafes are transmuting the face of coffee shops worldwide.


(Incorrect synonym)

11. Be sure that the meaning of your paraphrase is the same as that of the original statement.
More ideas about developing the body of the paragraph

There are various ways in which the body of the paragraph might develop the main idea which is
expressed in the key sentence. Some of these are:

1) By giving examples e.g.

The whirlwind destroyed everything in its path. Large trees were uprooted and hurled into the
river. Shop windows were smashed. Houses toppled and fell like children's toys. The bridge
across the river was ripped up and waved in the wind like a huge tarmac ribbon. No one had
foreseen such devastation.

2) By making an analogy - an extended comparison e.g.

The college should not allow students from other colleges to attend its gigs. Inviting outsiders to a
college gig is like inviting outsiders to a family dinner.

3) By using an anecdote e.g.

The college should not allow students from other colleges to attend its parties. Last year, a gang
of students from the estate began a large brawl at the Halloween party. Several people were hurt
and there was some property damage to the gym.

4) By stating reasons/suggesting possible consequences e.g.

The college should not allow students from other colleges to attend its gigs. Having students from
other colleges at the gigs might encourage fighting among students, especially if they are from
rival colleges.

5) By quoting statistics e.g.

The college should not allow students from other colleges to attend its parties and gigs. Popular
magazines state that 45% of gigs which admit outsiders end in some form of violent conflict.

More detailed information on the paragraph

A well structured paragraph can, firstly, help us to become more critical readers, able to identify
key points and recognise examples etc. Secondly, we can become more confident and effective
writers.

Think carefully and organise your ideas for your paragraph before you start writing:

• What does the topic sentence do? It introduces the main idea of the sentence.
• How do I write one? Summarize the main idea of your paragraph. Indicate to the reader
what your paragraph will be about.
Example:

"There are three reasons why Britain is one of the best countries in the world. First, Britain
has an excellent transport system. Second, Britain has a high standard of education. Students are
taught by well-trained teachers and are encouraged to continue studying at university. Finally,
Britain's cities are clean and efficiently managed. As a result, Britain is a desirable place to live."

• What are supporting sentences? They come after the topic sentence, making up the
body of the paragraph.
• What do they do? They give details to develop and support the main idea of the
paragraph.
• How do I write them? You should give supporting facts, details and examples.

Example:

"There are three reasons why Britain is one of the best countries in the world. First, Britain has
an excellent transport system. Second, Britain has a high standard of education. Students
are taught by well-trained teachers and are encouraged to continue studying at university.
Finally, Britain's cities are clean and efficiently managed. As a result, Britain is a desirable
place to live."

• What is the closing sentence? The closing sentence is the last sentence in the paragraph.
• What does it do? It restates the main idea of your paragraph.
• How do I write one? Restate the main idea of the paragraph using different words.

Example:

"There are three reasons why Britain is one of the best countries in the world. First, Britain has an
excellent transport system. Second, Britain has a high standard of education. Students are taught
by well-trained teachers and are encouraged to continue studying at university. Finally, Britain's
cities are clean and efficiently managed. As a result, Britain is a desirable place to live."

Linking paragraphs

Paragraphs can be linked by numbers

• In the first place.....


• In the second place.....
• In the third place.....

Firstly---------------secondly---------------thirdly

• The first group


• The second group
• The third group

You cannot use numbers unless you have two or three points to make.
Paragraphs can be linked by phrases:

In spite of this..., although this is true..., on the contrary..., on the other hand..., another way.., not
only .., but also.., to sum up.., you might think that..

Paragraph lengths:

There is no standard length for a paragraph. A paragraph should not be so long that you lose track
of the thought being expressed. If in doubt, divide a long paragraph into two shorter ones. It is
confusing if a piece of writing consists mainly of very short paragraphs. The exception to this is
speech. In a story that contains dialogue, it is normal to use a new paragraph each time a new
person speaks.

The topic of a paragraph

The topic of a paragraph is generally introduced by a key sentence. This is often called a topic
sentence. As its name suggests, this sentence contains the central idea of the paragraph. It may
make a statement that the rest of the sentence develops. It often - but not always - comes at the
beginning of the paragraph.

Topic sentence - the first sentence of a paragragh that tells the reader what the paragraph is
about.

Supporting sentences - these sentences add details to the topic sentence.

Ending sentence - this concludes or closes the paragraph.

Example: The topic is college.

The topic sentence could be: College is very important.

Three supporting sentences relate to the topic sentence:

• You learn how to study.


• Teachers teach you how to organise your work.
• You learn how to use computers.

The supporting sentences can be moved around so that the paragraph is in order or makes more
sense. To strengthen your writing, make sure that each of your supporting sentences relates well
to the topic sentence. It is not enough to be generally in the same topic area.

Ending sentence to close/finish/end the paragraph. Ending sentences can:

• a) repeat the topic sentence in a different way


• b) express how we feel about the topic
• c) express what we think about the topic.
• It is important to go to college (repeating topic sentence)
• I love going to college (expresses feelings)
• I think college is important for people of all ages (expresses thoughts).

Reminder. Make sure the facts you are writing are related to the exact question you are going to
answer in your paragraph.

• What facts and ideas can I use to support my introductory sentence


• Where can I find more facts on this topic?
• Why is this topic important?
• How can I make this paragraph more interesting?

Expressions to Use in Academic Summaries

The author: examines / explores / takes a look at / focuses on / points out + that states /
mentions / emphasizes / asserts / reports / notes m/ highlights the fact / contends / argues /
concludes

The article: is concerned with / deals with / is about / examines / focuses on / addresses