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VARIOUS TEXTS: What does PARAPHRASING mean?

If you have to paraphrase a written or an oral text, you do this by using different words to express the same meaning. You have to include all information that the original text contains in your own words! This means that your own text will have about the same length as the original.
In order to improve your paraphrasing skills you will have the learn how to:

1. choose synomyms for words and phrases
2. use alternative grammatical structures and
3. cite expressions and ideas when you can't think of a paraphrase

Try to avoid the last means because if you do so, this might be considered as plagiarizing!

So what you should do is:
Substitute by using synonyms and phrases or make explanations in your own words!
When you use teh startegy of replacing synonyms, you must do so by using more than one word or phrase. A good paraphrase will also be in a different grammatical structure (i.e. passive instead of active syntax or the other way round).
So substituting only one word is not considered an acceptable paraphrase. So it would be unacceptable to say or write:

The most difficult rules of a team sport exist in cricket.
for the original:
The most complicated rules of a team sport exist in cricket.

An acceptable version would be:
The most difficult rules of a team sport to master can be observed in cricket.
In this case not only are the words restated but also the sentence structure has been changed by using an infinitive construction after a superlative (most difficult).

The following practice activity asks you to find acceptable paraphrases for the following statements. The words and phrases to be changed are in bold letters. Sentence structures, however, don't have to be changed in this activity.

EXAMPLE
Original:
Thomas Edison was a very curious child, performing his first experiment when he was only three years old.
Paraphrase:
Thomas Edison was a very inquisitive child, conducting his first experiment at the age of three.

Now it's your turn:
Exercise I

1. The copperhead, a snake that strikes without warning, is considered much more dangerous than the rattlesnake.

Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Because J. P. Morgan was known as a reputable and prudent businessman, he was able to persuade others to remain in the market even after the crash had begun.

Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Phosphorus is used in paint on highway signs and markers because it is bright at night.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
4. Rain forests are often located near the equator.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
5. By the mid-nineteenth century, land was so expensive in large cities that architects began to conserve space by building skyscrapers.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
6. Research studies of vertebrates show development from a very simple heart in fish to a complex four-chamber heart in humans.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
7. When two products are fundamentally the same, advertising can influence the choice that the public makes.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
8. As a whole, in birds, the male of the species is more brilliantly colored.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
9. The price of gold on the world market is subject to several variables, including but not limited to supply and demand.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
10. The idea of a submarine is not recent , dating from the 1400s when Drebbel and da Vinci drew initial sketches.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________



Exercise II

In the following practice exercise restate the sentences by using a passive structure:
EXAMPLE
Active statement:
Sea gulls need either fresh or salt water for them to survive.

Passive restatement:
Either fresh or sea water is needed by sea gulls for them to survive.

Now it's your turn:
1. It is interesting that people over the age of 65 experience fewer mental health disorders.
Paraphrase:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. In the stringed instruments, a bow produces the tones when it is played across a set of strings made of wire or gut.
Paraphrase:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. High-frequency radiation from the Sun and other sources partly ionize gases in the ionosphere.
Paraphrase:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
4. Architects can use a domed roof to conserve floor space.
Paraphrase:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
5. The Egyptians used papyrus to make paper, sails, baskets, and clothing.
Paraphrase:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Exercise III:
In the following exercise, paraphrase the original sentences by changing words, phrases and the grammatical structures. In doing so, don't change the meaning and don't leave out any important information!

EXAMPLE:
Original:
Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of both the Sun and the Moon.
Paraphrase:
Tides are produced by the gravitational pull of both the Sun and the Moon.
Problem:
The paraphrase is too much like the original. Only one word was changed.
Edited paraphrase:
The combined gravitational effects of the Sun and Moon produce tides on Earth.

Why is this better? Because synonyms have been substituted, and an alternative grammatical structure has been used, but the meaning has not changed.

Now it's your turn:
1. Proteins are molecules that regulate the movement of materials across cell walls.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. The invention of the steam engine played a major role in the Industrial Revolution because it caused the factory system to extend itself to many areas of production apart from the cotton industry.
Paraphrase:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Although big companies are trying to maintain a balance between traditional advertising and some of the newer alternatives like blogging, it is often the smaller entrepreneurs who are using bloggers as an efficient way to stack their competition.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
4. Fossils of bones have the appearance of stone, but the holes and pores are actually infused with mineral deposits from the surrounding sediments.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
5. Pictograms found in many parts of the world about 1500 B.c. constitute the earliest system of writing, although written symbols have been discovered that date from as early as 3500 B.C.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
6. The modern atmosphere is probably the fourth atmosphere in the history of the Earth.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
7. Whereas alcohol is a depressant, coffee is a stimulant.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
8. The Pacific Basin, which includes the continent of Australia and the thousands of islands grouped together as Oceania, covers one third of the sur- face of the Earth.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
9. In fresco painting, the pigments may be mixed with water and applied to the plaster before it dries so that the lime in the plaster fuses with the pigments on the surface.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
10. As Linnaeus originally conceived the biological classification chart, he segregated all living creatures solely according to their degree of physical similarity.
Paraphrase:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Source: Barron's TOEFL iBT, 2006, p. 89ff.





Whenever you are asked to report or restate ideas, make sure that you use strong verbs for your introductory sentence. This of course depends on the kind of idea you would like to render - this can imply doubt, neutrality or certainty.
To help you find the right verb, here are some of them according to the kind of idea:

doubt
to allege behaupten, erklären (Unbewiesenes)
to assume annehmen, unterstellen, voraussetzen
to believe glauben
to claim behaupten
to imply einbeziehen, mit enthalten
to predict vorhersagen
to propose (sth. to sb.) vorschlagen, auch: e. Heiratsantrag machen
to suggest vorschlagen, etwas sagen wollen
to suppose annehmen
to suspect vermuten, verdächtigen

Neutrality
to indicate hinweisen, deuten auf
to illustrate veranschaulichen
to mention erwähnen
to note bemerken, beachten, achten auf
to observe beobachten
to point out hinweisen auf
to report berichten
to show zeigen
to state darlegen, festsetzen

Certainty
to advance (e. Argument) vorbringen, geltend machen
to argue argumentieren, f. etwas eintreten
to assert behaupten, erklären
to conclude Folgerungen ziehen, e. Schluß ziehen
to confirm bestätigen
to demonstrate demonstrieren, darlegen
to discover entdecken
to maintain behaupten, verfechten, aufrecht erhalten
to verify beweisen, belegen

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