What is Paraphrasing? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Paraphrasing Defined
  • 0:38 Guidelines for Paraphrasing
  • 1:35 Examples
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Patricia Vineski
In this lesson, you'll learn what a paraphrase is and how to accurately paraphrase information. Take a look at some examples, and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Paraphrasing Defined

We've all watched television shows or heard news stories we wanted to tell others about. We may have told our friends, our family, or our coworkers about what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. We recounted the storyline, the main characters, the events, and important points using our own words. This is paraphrasing - using your own words to express someone else's message or ideas. In a paraphrase, the ideas and meaning of the original source must be maintained; the main ideas need to come through, but the wording has to be your own.

Guidelines for Paraphrasing

How do you paraphrase a source?

  • Read the original two or three times or until you are sure you understand it.
  • Put the original aside and try to write the main ideas in your own words. Say what the source says, but no more, and try to reproduce the source's order of ideas and emphasis.
  • Look closely at unfamiliar words, observing carefully the exact sense in which the writer uses the words.
  • Check your paraphrase, as often as needed, against the original for accurate tone and meaning, changing any words or phrases that match the original too closely. If the wording of the paraphrase is too close to the wording of the original, then it is plagiarism.
  • Include a citation for the source of the information (including the page numbers) so that you can cite the source accurately. Even when you paraphrase, you must still give credit to the original author.


Paraphrasing can be done with individual sentences or entire paragraphs. Here are some examples.

Original sentence:
Her life spanned years of incredible change for women.

Paraphrased sentence:
Mary lived through an era of liberating reform for women.

Original sentence:
Giraffes like Acacia leaves and hay, and they can consume 75 pounds of food a day.

Paraphrased sentence:
A giraffe can eat up to 75 pounds of Acacia leaves and hay every day.

Okay, now you try it. Here's your original sentence:

Any trip to Italy should include a trip to Tuscany to sample its exquisite wines.

Now, pause the video and see how you would paraphrase that. Here's how I would have paraphrased that sentence:

Be sure to include a Tuscan wine-tasting experience when visiting Italy.

Your answer doesn't have to match, but hopefully you're getting the general idea.

Now let's try something longer. Here's a whole paragraph:

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 into a witness for the FBI, his mother colludes with his uncle to contract a hit on Tony, and his kids click through websites that track the federal crackdown in Tony's gangland.

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