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Using Paraphrases and Summaries in Essays

Posted on February 22, 2011 in categories: Uncategorized

Firstly, let’s make it clear for you what paraphrasing and summarizing are. When you paraphrase, you use your own words for expressing someone else’s ideas. When you summarize, you highlight only the main points of someone else’s work. Essay writing requires both paraphrase and summary as the usage of both these techniques gives the writer an opportunity to write other people’s ideas without introducing quotations.

What is important while paraphrasing?

Two points should be remembered if you want to paraphrase some ideas:

  1. Providing reference is obligatory.
  2. Not only the phrases must be substituted but also the sentence structure should be altered.

Have problems with finding new words for an already expressed idea? Here are some tips:

  1. If you know already at the note-taking stage that this or that paragraph could be useful for your essay, do not copy it – rewrite it immediately in your own words.
  2. Making a note of the author’s basic point and not full sentences also helps.
  3. Capturing the original idea and expressing it in your own words is what is required of you.
  4. Proper reference is necessary, so write down the correct page number.

Let’s look at the example of paraphrase. The original passage is from Eric Berne’s “Games People Play”:

His prohibitions and her complaints frequently led to quarrels, so that their sex life was seriously impaired.  She and her husband had little in common besides their household worries and the children, so that their quarrels stood out as important events.

An example of paraphrase:

In “Games People Play,” Eric Berne describes both functional and dysfunctional social interactions. The explanation of one of the games played between two people comes to the defining the basics and the reasons of the initial quarrel. In the games people actually conceal motivations, include private significance to another party involved, but the real problem is that they have little in common.

How should I summarize?

Summary is not simply avoiding of the same phrases. In your own words, using your specific language, you should reveal the most essential points expressed by the author. The majority prefers writing a summary as it is shorter than a paraphrase.

Here is a summary of the passage from “Games People Play”:

In “Games People Play”, Berne notes that social interactions are seen in all relationships, postulating that many negative behaviors arise because of confusion of roles played by people. If people had much in common, if they understood each other’s role, then they would live without quarrels.