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Definition of paraphrase

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Definition of paraphrase  (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

transitive verb

Did you know?

When we paraphrase, we provide a version that can exist beside the original (rather than replace it). We paraphrase all the time. When you tell a friend what someone else has said, you're almost always paraphrasing, since you're not repeating the exact words. If you go to hear a talk, you might paraphrase the speaker's main points afterward for your friends. And when writing a paper on a short story, you might start off your essay with a paraphrase of the plot. Paraphrasing is especially useful when dealing with poetry, since poetic language is often difficult and poems may have meanings that are hard to pin down.

Example Sentences

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'paraphrase.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Noun and Verb

Middle French, from Latin paraphrasis , from Greek, from paraphrazein to paraphrase, from para- + phrazein to point out

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Dictionary Entries Near paraphrase


Cite this Entry

“Paraphrase.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paraphrase. Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of paraphrase.

Kids Definition of paraphrase  (Entry 2 of 2)

More from Merriam-Webster on paraphrase

Nglish: Translation of paraphrase for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of paraphrase for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about paraphrase

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Quoting and Paraphrasing

Download this Handout PDF

College writing often involves integrating information from published sources into your own writing in order to add credibility and authority–this process is essential to research and the production of new knowledge.

However, when building on the work of others, you need to be careful not to plagiarize : “to steal and pass off (the ideas and words of another) as one’s own” or to “present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”1 The University of Wisconsin–Madison takes this act of “intellectual burglary” very seriously and considers it to be a breach of academic integrity . Penalties are severe.

These materials will help you avoid plagiarism by teaching you how to properly integrate information from published sources into your own writing.

1. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993), 888.

How to avoid plagiarism

When using sources in your papers, you can avoid plagiarism by knowing what must be documented.

Specific words and phrases

If you use an author’s specific word or words, you must place those words within quotation marks and you must credit the source.

Information and Ideas

Even if you use your own words, if you obtained the information or ideas you are presenting from a source, you must document the source.

Information : If a piece of information isn’t common knowledge (see below), you need to provide a source.

Ideas : An author’s ideas may include not only points made and conclusions drawn, but, for instance, a specific method or theory, the arrangement of material, or a list of steps in a process or characteristics of a medical condition. If a source provided any of these, you need to acknowledge the source.

Common Knowledge?

You do not need to cite a source for material considered common knowledge:

General common knowledge is factual information considered to be in the public domain, such as birth and death dates of well-known figures, and generally accepted dates of military, political, literary, and other historical events. In general, factual information contained in multiple standard reference works can usually be considered to be in the public domain.

Field-specific common knowledge is “common” only within a particular field or specialty. It may include facts, theories, or methods that are familiar to readers within that discipline. For instance, you may not need to cite a reference to Piaget’s developmental stages in a paper for an education class or give a source for your description of a commonly used method in a biology report—but you must be sure that this information is so widely known within that field that it will be shared by your readers.

If in doubt, be cautious and cite the source. And in the case of both general and field-specific common knowledge, if you use the exact words of the reference source, you must use quotation marks and credit the source.

Paraphrasing vs. Quoting — Explanation

Should i paraphrase or quote.

In general, use direct quotations only if you have a good reason. Most of your paper should be in your own words. Also, it’s often conventional to quote more extensively from sources when you’re writing a humanities paper, and to summarize from sources when you’re writing in the social or natural sciences–but there are always exceptions.

In a literary analysis paper , for example, you”ll want to quote from the literary text rather than summarize, because part of your task in this kind of paper is to analyze the specific words and phrases an author uses.

In research papers , you should quote from a source

You should summarize or paraphrase when

How to paraphrase a source

General advice.

Methods of Paraphrasing

If you find that you can’t do A or B, this may mean that you don’t understand the passage completely or that you need to use a more structured process until you have more experience in paraphrasing.

The method below is not only a way to create a paraphrase but also a way to understand a difficult text.

Paraphrasing difficult texts

Consider the following passage from Love and Toil (a book on motherhood in London from 1870 to 1918), in which the author, Ellen Ross, puts forth one of her major arguments:

Children of the poor at the turn of the century received little if any emotional or intellectual nurturing from their mothers, whose main charge was family survival. Working for and organizing household subsistence were what defined mothering. Next to this, even the children’s basic comfort was forced into the background (Ross, 1995).
According to Ross (1993), poor children at the turn of the century received little mothering in our sense of the term. Mothering was defined by economic status, and among the poor, a mother’s foremost responsibility was not to stimulate her children’s minds or foster their emotional growth but to provide food and shelter to meet the basic requirements for physical survival. Given the magnitude of this task, children were deprived of even the “actual comfort” (p. 9) we expect mothers to provide today.

You may need to go through this process several times to create a satisfactory paraphrase.

Successful vs. unsuccessful paraphrases

Paraphrasing is often defined as putting a passage from an author into “your own words.” But what are your own words? How different must your paraphrase be from the original?

The paragraphs below provide an example by showing a passage as it appears in the source, two paraphrases that follow the source too closely, and a legitimate paraphrase.

The student’s intention was to incorporate the material in the original passage into a section of a paper on the concept of “experts” that compared the functions of experts and nonexperts in several professions.

The Passage as It Appears in the Source

Critical care nurses function in a hierarchy of roles. In this open heart surgery unit, the nurse manager hires and fires the nursing personnel. The nurse manager does not directly care for patients but follows the progress of unusual or long-term patients. On each shift a nurse assumes the role of resource nurse. This person oversees the hour-by-hour functioning of the unit as a whole, such as considering expected admissions and discharges of patients, ascertaining that beds are available for patients in the operating room, and covering sick calls. Resource nurses also take a patient assignment. They are the most experienced of all the staff nurses. The nurse clinician has a separate job description and provides for quality of care by orienting new staff, developing unit policies, and providing direct support where needed, such as assisting in emergency situations. The clinical nurse specialist in this unit is mostly involved with formal teaching in orienting new staff. The nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist are the designated experts. They do not take patient assignments. The resource nurse is seen as both a caregiver and a resource to other caregivers. . . . Staff nurses have a hierarchy of seniority. . . . Staff nurses are assigned to patients to provide all their nursing care. (Chase, 1995, p. 156)

Word-for-Word Plagiarism

Critical care nurses have a hierarchy of roles. The nurse manager hires and fires nurses. S/he does not directly care for patients but does follow unusual or long-term cases. On each shift a resource nurse attends to the functioning of the unit as a whole, such as making sure beds are available in the operating room , and also has a patient assignment . The nurse clinician orients new staff, develops policies, and provides support where needed . The clinical nurse specialist also orients new staff, mostly by formal teaching. The nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist , as the designated experts, do not take patient assignments . The resource nurse is not only a caregiver but a resource to the other caregivers . Within the staff nurses there is also a hierarchy of seniority . Their job is to give assigned patients all their nursing care .

Why this is plagiarism

Notice that the writer has not only “borrowed” Chase’s material (the results of her research) with no acknowledgment, but has also largely maintained the author’s method of expression and sentence structure. The phrases in red are directly copied from the source or changed only slightly in form.

Even if the student-writer had acknowledged Chase as the source of the content, the language of the passage would be considered plagiarized because no quotation marks indicate the phrases that come directly from Chase. And if quotation marks did appear around all these phrases, this paragraph would be so cluttered that it would be unreadable.

A Patchwork Paraphrase

Chase (1995) describes how nurses in a critical care unit function in a hierarchy that places designated experts at the top and the least senior staff nurses at the bottom. The experts — the nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist — are not involved directly in patient care. The staff nurses, in contrast, are assigned to patients and provide all their nursing care . Within the staff nurses is a hierarchy of seniority in which the most senior can become resource nurses: they are assigned a patient but also serve as a resource to other caregivers. The experts have administrative and teaching tasks such as selecting and orienting new staff, developing unit policies , and giving hands-on support where needed.

This paraphrase is a patchwork composed of pieces in the original author’s language (in red) and pieces in the student-writer’s words, all rearranged into a new pattern, but with none of the borrowed pieces in quotation marks. Thus, even though the writer acknowledges the source of the material, the underlined phrases are falsely presented as the student’s own.

A Legitimate Paraphrase

In her study of the roles of nurses in a critical care unit, Chase (1995) also found a hierarchy that distinguished the roles of experts and others. Just as the educational experts described above do not directly teach students, the experts in this unit do not directly attend to patients. That is the role of the staff nurses, who, like teachers, have their own “hierarchy of seniority” (p. 156). The roles of the experts include employing unit nurses and overseeing the care of special patients (nurse manager), teaching and otherwise integrating new personnel into the unit (clinical nurse specialist and nurse clinician), and policy-making (nurse clinician). In an intermediate position in the hierarchy is the resource nurse, a staff nurse with more experience than the others, who assumes direct care of patients as the other staff nurses do, but also takes on tasks to ensure the smooth operation of the entire facility.

Why this is a good paraphrase

The writer has documented Chase’s material and specific language (by direct reference to the author and by quotation marks around language taken directly from the source). Notice too that the writer has modified Chase’s language and structure and has added material to fit the new context and purpose — to present the distinctive functions of experts and nonexperts in several professions.

Shared Language

Perhaps you’ve noticed that a number of phrases from the original passage appear in the legitimate paraphrase: critical care, staff nurses, nurse manager, clinical nurse specialist, nurse clinician, resource nurse.

If all these phrases were in red, the paraphrase would look much like the “patchwork” example. The difference is that the phrases in the legitimate paraphrase are all precise, economical, and conventional designations that are part of the shared language within the nursing discipline (in the too-close paraphrases, they’re red only when used within a longer borrowed phrase).

In every discipline and in certain genres (such as the empirical research report), some phrases are so specialized or conventional that you can’t paraphrase them except by wordy and awkward circumlocutions that would be less familiar (and thus less readable) to the audience.

When you repeat such phrases, you’re not stealing the unique phrasing of an individual writer but using a common vocabulary shared by a community of scholars.

Some Examples of Shared Language You Don’t Need to Put in Quotation Marks

Chase, S. K. (1995). The social context of critical care clinical judgment. Heart and Lung, 24, 154-162.

How to Quote a Source

Introducing a quotation.

One of your jobs as a writer is to guide your reader through your text. Don’t simply drop quotations into your paper and leave it to the reader to make connections.

Integrating a quotation into your text usually involves two elements:

Often both the signal and the assertion appear in a single introductory statement, as in the example below. Notice how a transitional phrase also serves to connect the quotation smoothly to the introductory statement.

Ross (1993), in her study of poor and working-class mothers in London from 1870-1918 [signal], makes it clear that economic status to a large extent determined the meaning of motherhood [assertion]. Among this population [connection], “To mother was to work for and organize household subsistence” (p. 9).

The signal can also come after the assertion, again with a connecting word or phrase:

Illness was rarely a routine matter in the nineteenth century [assertion]. As [connection] Ross observes [signal], “Maternal thinking about children’s health revolved around the possibility of a child’s maiming or death” (p. 166).

Formatting Quotations

Short direct prose.

Incorporate short direct prose quotations into the text of your paper and enclose them in double quotation marks:

According to Jonathan Clarke, “Professional diplomats often say that trying to think diplomatically about foreign policy is a waste of time.”

Longer prose quotations

Begin longer quotations (for instance, in the APA system, 40 words or more) on a new line and indent the entire quotation (i.e., put in block form), with no quotation marks at beginning or end, as in the quoted passage from our Successful vs. Unsucessful Paraphrases page.

Rules about the minimum length of block quotations, how many spaces to indent, and whether to single- or double-space extended quotations vary with different documentation systems; check the guidelines for the system you’re using.

Quotation of Up to 3 Lines of Poetry

Quotations of up to 3 lines of poetry should be integrated into your sentence. For example:

In Julius Caesar, Antony begins his famous speech with “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; / I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him” (III.ii.75-76).

Notice that a slash (/) with a space on either side is used to separate lines.

Quotation of More than 3 Lines of Poetry

More than 3 lines of poetry should be indented. As with any extended (indented) quotation, do not use quotation marks unless you need to indicate a quotation within your quotation.

Punctuating with Quotation Marks

Parenthetical citations.

With short quotations, place citations outside of closing quotation marks, followed by sentence punctuation (period, question mark, comma, semi-colon, colon):

Menand (2002) characterizes language as “a social weapon” (p. 115).

With block quotations, check the guidelines for the documentation system you are using.

Commas and periods

Place inside closing quotation marks when no parenthetical citation follows:

Hertzberg (2002) notes that “treating the Constitution as imperfect is not new,” but because of Dahl’s credentials, his “apostasy merits attention” (p. 85).

Semicolons and colons

Place outside of closing quotation marks (or after a parenthetical citation).

Question marks and exclamation points

Place inside closing quotation marks if the quotation is a question/exclamation:

Menand (2001) acknowledges that H. W. Fowler’s Modern English Usage is “a classic of the language,” but he asks, “Is it a dead classic?” (p. 114).

[Note that a period still follows the closing parenthesis.]

Place outside of closing quotation marks if the entire sentence containing the quotation is a question or exclamation:

How many students actually read the guide to find out what is meant by “academic misconduct”?

Quotation within a quotation

Use single quotation marks for the embedded quotation:

According to Hertzberg (2002), Dahl gives the U. S. Constitution “bad marks in ‘democratic fairness’ and ‘encouraging consensus'” (p. 90).

[The phrases “democratic fairness” and “encouraging consensus” are already in quotation marks in Dahl’s sentence.]

Indicating Changes in Quotations

Quoting only a portion of the whole.

Use ellipsis points (. . .) to indicate an omission within a quotation–but not at the beginning or end unless it’s not obvious that you’re quoting only a portion of the whole.

Adding Clarification, Comment, or Correction

Within quotations, use square brackets [ ] (not parentheses) to add your own clarification, comment, or correction.

Use [sic] (meaning “so” or “thus”) to indicate that a mistake is in the source you’re quoting and is not your own.

Additional information

Information on summarizing and paraphrasing sources.

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). (2000). Retrieved January 7, 2002, from http://www.bartleby.com/61/ Bazerman, C. (1995). The informed writer: Using sources in the disciplines (5th ed). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Leki, I. (1995). Academic writing: Exploring processes and strategies (2nd ed.) New York: St. Martin?s Press, pp. 185-211.

Leki describes the basic method presented in C, pp. 4-5.

Spatt, B. (1999). Writing from sources (5th ed.) New York: St. Martin?s Press, pp. 98-119; 364-371.

Information about specific documentation systems

The Writing Center has handouts explaining how to use many of the standard documentation systems. You may look at our general Web page on Documentation Systems, or you may check out any of the following specific Web pages.

If you’re not sure which documentation system to use, ask the course instructor who assigned your paper.

You may also consult the following guides:

paraphrase quotes meaning

Academic and Professional Writing

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Analysis Papers

Reading Poetry

A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis

Using Literary Quotations

Play Reviews

Writing a Rhetorical Précis to Analyze Nonfiction Texts

Incorporating Interview Data

Grant Proposals

Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics

Additional Resources for Grants and Proposal Writing

Job Materials and Application Essays

Writing Personal Statements for Ph.D. Programs

Resume Writing Tips

CV Writing Tips

Cover Letters

Business Letters

Proposals and Dissertations

Resources for Proposal Writers

Resources for Dissertators

Research Papers

Planning and Writing Research Papers

Writing Annotated Bibliographies

Creating Poster Presentations

Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

Thank-You Notes

Advice for Students Writing Thank-You Notes to Donors

Reading for a Review

Critical Reviews

Writing a Review of Literature

Scientific Reports

Scientific Report Format

Sample Lab Assignment

Writing for the Web

Writing an Effective Blog Post

Writing for Social Media: A Guide for Academics

OTHER WORDS FOR paraphrase

Origin of paraphrase, synonym study for paraphrase, other words from paraphrase, words nearby paraphrase, more about paraphrase, what does paraphrase mean.

A paraphrase is a restatement of a text in your own words while giving credit to the person who originated the thought. For example, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” You might paraphrase it in an essay by writing, “To paraphrase FDR, we have nothing to be afraid of, and we can’t let fear hold us back.”

To paraphrase means to restate something in your own words. You might paraphrase complicated information in order to make it easier for your audience to understand. You also might paraphrase something when you can’t remember or can’t verify the exact wording. It’s important to remember that you still need to credit the originator of the statement you’re paraphrasing .

Example: If you cannot remember the exact quote, you can paraphrase with precise detail.

Where does paraphrase come from?

The first records of the term paraphrase come from the mid-1500s. It ultimately comes from the Greek paráphrasis . Typically, the suffix para – means “side by side,” so a paraphrase is a “side by side phrase,” or “a phrase that means the same but looks or sounds different.”

Sometimes, people will paraphrase famous quotes, quotes from important figures, or quotes from research and change key parts of it or the overall wording to make the quote seem like it supports their claim when, in fact, it does not. For example, someone may paraphrase a quote from a research article but leave out certain details to make the research support their argument while the actual quote might not. When looking at an argument that uses a lot of paraphrases as evidence, it’s a good idea to find the original quotes to see if they truly support the argument.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to paraphrase ?

What are some synonyms for paraphrase ?

What are some words that share a root or word element with paraphrase ? 

What are some words that often get used in discussing paraphrase ?

How is paraphrase used in real life?

News, research, and academic writing often use paraphrasing to tell their stories.

To paraphrase: How long does it take to write a screenplay? Your whole life plus the time it takes to type it. — Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) November 8, 2015
FAQ: How many in-text citations do I need in a paragraph when I am paraphrasing (e.g., after every sentence or just once at the end)? A: The “Long Paraphrases” section of this #APAStyle page has practical guidelines and examples: https://t.co/eH9tg2nf4M — APA Style (@APA_Style) December 1, 2021
to paraphrase shigeru miyamoto, a delayed album is eventually good, but a rushed album is forever bad — xander (@mura_masa_) December 30, 2015

Try using paraphrase !

True or False?

To paraphrase someone is to quote their words precisely.

Words related to paraphrase

How to use paraphrase in a sentence.

When Obsessive Loser Duncan Stevens suggested examples for this contest — one of several Shakespeare-centered challenges he’s proposed — I told him that I wanted to stick to modern paraphrase s, rather than taking him humorously out of context.

To paraphrase Peter Tosh, if Illinois were to legalize it, would you advertise it?

To paraphrase the renegade philosopher Hannibal, I love it when science comes together.

To paraphrase Fox Friends, don't get caught beating women on camera and you're safe to play in the NFL.

Barry Goldwater is not the sort of man you might expect Stephen F. Cohen to paraphrase .

To paraphrase the great John Oliver, listen up, fellow self-pitying nerd boys—we are not the victims here.

A man may weep and weep, to paraphrase Shakespeare, "and be a villain!"

The omissions are the most sensible that I have found in a paraphrase .

This is not paraphrase ; it is sheer misapprehension of the Old English.

As the language in which it is written is not easily intelligible, I have added a paraphrase on the opposite pages.

Instead of "Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion," we have the paraphrase , "That maketh and transformeth all things."

British Dictionary definitions for paraphrase

Derived forms of paraphrase, word origin for paraphrase, cultural definitions for paraphrase.

A restatement of speech or writing that retains the basic meaning while changing the words. A paraphrase often clarifies the original statement by putting it into words that are more easily understood.


How to Paraphrase Quotes


Quotes are an invaluable part of academic writing, and frequently you need to paraphrase them. When you quote someone else’s work, it is essential to give credit where is due. It is not enough to copy the words from their paper or website. If your professor asks for a citation, they will want more than just a reference.

The three most common ways that quoting and paraphrasing differ are MLA format vs. APA format vs. Chicago format. The first two methods use in-text citations with parenthetical references like (Author) or (Author) (year). In contrast, the last method does not require any extra information to establish context for the reader. This method uses footnotes instead of in-text citations. This method is also called a footnote style.

This blog post will walk you through the difference between quoting and paraphrasing in APA format, MLA format, and footnote style.

Do you put paraphrases in quotations?

Paraphrases in quotations are acceptable in the MLA and APA style. It would be best to quote words in a statement when you are trying to represent those words directly. If you want to explain the meaning of that quotation, then paraphrase them instead.

In MLA style, quotes should be enclosed with double quotations marks , while an apostrophe does not need to precede or follow (unless it would make sense). APA format uses single quote marks for quoted text and does not place any punctuation before or after unless it is necessary grammatically.

“Quote within a quote.” This means making sure we never misrepresent other people’s work by taking things out of context. If that happens, they would probably sue us.

How to paraphrase quotes?

There exist different ways of paraphrasing an article. There exist unique guidelines for quoting and paraphrasing depending on the type of work being done.

However, there is a basic understanding that can be applied to all forms of writing. Quotes should not be copied word-for-word or in their entirety without quotation marks.

Paraphrasing quotes can be boiled own to five key steps:

Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are used to signify an exact quote of someone or something – “Quote” by Jane Smith.

Quotation marks, are also used when you want to paraphrase what somebody else has said in your own words. But still get their meaning across and not change it too much to be misleading or dishonest with the reader, which is called plagiarism – for example: “[quote].” Its common practice on Wikipedia articles where they use [cite] tags instead of quotes.  Because that way, if they ever have questions about accuracy later down the line. There’s no risk of misquoting themselves since citations always go directly back to the source material for verification purposes.

– Quote or cite the original Quote and paraphrase it in parentheses afterward to credit the quotation.

– Add information about your source for citing the quotation when necessary.

This is an example in my own words. I am quoting from “The Importance of Quoting” by Helen Sword: “Writing is not just what authors do, but also what readers do—we make meaning out of texts that are already written.” To continue, this idea could be rephrased as something like “Reading is more than simply interpreting text; we create new meanings out of existing ones.” This would require me to include at least one citation because I have used two quotes within a sentence.

The Difference between Paraphrasing and Quoting

The difference between paraphrasing and quoting is significant. Paraphrasing is rewriting text in your own words without changing the meaning or thought of what was said. Quoting means you are using somebody’s exact wording but still giving credit by citing where that Quote came from at the end of your blog post with a footnote citation (Author ABC 2016).

Quotes have more weight than paraphrases because quoting shows readers how an expert says something while paraphrasing changes some words around. The most common way to signal quotation marks on a blog is using double quotes.

The Difference between Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Paraphrasing is rewriting someone else’s work in your own words while avoiding mirroring of the other person’s work.

On the other hand, a summary is a brief or total description of someone else’s work. It mostly occurs in research.

Both involve writing in your own words.

However, the difference is that in paraphrasing, the length of the paraphrased text will be roughly the same as the original text, while summarizing only considers the main points. The length of a summary will be considerably shorter than the original text.

How do you reword a quote?

You reward a quote with a paraphrase by rewording it using your own words. You will still need to cite the Quote source, but you’ll have fewer citations in your paper because all of them won’t be copied and pasted from other sources.

The reader should know where you got what is being said without reading footnotes or endnotes throughout your paper. You also might have more time for analysis if there are not as many quotes that must be analyzed inside this paragraph alone.

Source: ____________ _____________________ (Mention who wrote the article)

Paraphrased Quote; “The goal of any dissertation is to make an original contribution.”

This sentence could’ve been written as: “The goal of the dissertation is to make an original contribution.”

Paraphrased Quote; “I’m not saying that you should avoid quoting. In fact, I recommend giving yourself a little bit more time for your analysis by paraphrasing quotes rather than copying and pasting them from other sources in order to save time on the citations.”

This sentence could’ve been written as: “To save some time, it might be best to use paraphrase instead of quoting when appropriate.”

Cited Paragraph Citations – After each paragraph with quotations or long-form content from another source, add at least one citation so that readers know where to get the original information.

You may check on our other guides to know, for example, how to cite when the source is a book chapter .

Some tips on paraphrasing correctly

  How to Paraphrase a Quote in MLA

paraphrase quotes meaning

When paraphrasing a quote in MLA, you should try to summarize the idea of what is being said, rather than copying and pasting it into your work. You can do this by summarizing in one sentence, including a citation for the Quote supporting your summary statement.

One way to paraphrase quotes from someone else in MLA style is first to give an overview of the passage with no more than two sentences. This includes everything necessary about the paraphrase; next, provide a quotation or reference (which also includes information about the publication) to back up your understanding of what was just summarized.

Your summary paragraph will be followed by another section discussing how relevant these findings are to modern society today.

Another way to paraphrase in MLA is to use general statements or questions rather than quoting. You can do this by summarizing in one sentence, including a citation for the Quote supporting your summary statement.

The following is an excerpt from a book called “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, by Oscar Wilde.

Example: “The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.” (Wilde 1).

Paraphrased text: Wilde offers a vivid description of how a room was laden with the sweet fragrance of roses, mixed with the dense lilac and flowering thorn scents, catalyzed by the wind (Wilde 1).

Common mistakes to avoid while paraphrasing in MLA

Tips for writing an excellent MLA quote

How to cite a paraphrase in MLA

When citing in MLA, you use the following in-text citation style:

Our MLA guide on citing websites may be of help if you wish to learn more about the MLA style!

How to cite a paraphrase in APA

paraphrase quotes meaning

When citing a paraphrase in APA, you need to include a footnote that identifies the paraphrased source and provides an in-text citation for the original Quote.

The following example cites President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” speech:

Roosevelt (1933) “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Paraphrased text: In his speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt provided an introspective look at bewilderment (Roosevelt, 1993).

It should be noted that this would not apply if you are citing quotes from sources where each paragraph includes an explicit reference or attribution such as published books, written interviews, or online archives.

In APA style, it’s important to remember what type of quotation you’re using. Make sure you understand well the differences between direct, indirect, and reported speech.

In case the bible is your source, it would be better to quote it directly instead.

Tips on how to avoid mistakes while citing in APA

Our exclusive guide on how to cite websites in APA may help you learn more about the APA style.

How to cite a paraphrase in Chicago

Using the example from the MLA section, a Chicago citation should look like this:

Example: “The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.”

Paraphrased text: Wilde1 offers a vivid description of how a room was laden with the sweet fragrance of roses, mixed with the dense lilac and flowering thorn scents, catalyzed by the wind.

What is plagiarism?

paraphrase quotes meaning

Plagiarism is using other people’s words and ideas as one’s own, without giving credit.

Plagiarism is not about surpassing the bounds of copyright but using other people’s work in a way that makes it appear as you wrote it.

It can be easy to plagiarize unknowingly because there are many ways we engage with others’ writing:

I was reading online articles or books. You are quoting something from memory.

The problem arises when these quotes remain unacknowledged in your paper, which renders them unattributed sources. This could lead to serious consequences such as punishment by law or expulsion from school if detected while still enrolled.

Remember that each part of your paper, even the abstract , should be original. However, you are allowed to include some appendices from other sources, but those must be cited accordingly too.

Effects of Plagiarism

How to avoid plagiarism

-Use your own words to convey your point.

-Do not copy word for word from the source; it is still plagiarism if you do so even with quotation marks.

-Paraphrase using synonyms or phrases that express the same idea in different ways.

-Try paraphrasing what someone said by rephrasing their ideas and adding new information relevant to your audience.

-Analyze the information provided and come up with a different way of expressing the same.

-Replace quoted words with synonyms and still has the same meaning.

-You can also change a word or phrase from what was said to focus on an important point you want to make

-Analyze your source material for sentences that are not relevant but could be paraphrased

-Ensure that it is clear when something has been taken out of context and cited correctly instead of copied verbatim without citation.

Paraphrasing offers the writer flexibility to impose their command in their writing.

However, quotes are often used for impact in a text.

It is essential for a writer to know the right balance of quotes. Sometimes, it is better to paraphrase a quote, especially when the quote is vital for your text, yet cannot fit your context.

In case you still have doubts about paraphrasing, our premium writers can do it for you.

paraphrase quotes meaning

I ‘m a freelance content and SEO writer with a passion for finding the perfect combination of words to capture attention and express a message . I create catchy, SEO-friendly content for websites, blogs, articles, and social media. My experience spans many industries, including health and wellness, technology, education, business, and lifestyle. My clients appreciate my ability to craft compelling stories that engage their target audience, but also help to improve their website’s search engine rankings. I’m also an avid learner and stay up to date on the latest SEO trends. I enjoy exploring new places and reading up on the latest marketing and SEO strategies in my free time.

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Paraphrase & Quotation (ELL)

Wr 111: essential lesson 2.

Our Essential Lessons are a sequence of lessons that form the backbone of the Writing Program curriculum, illustrating what we want all students to learn across our program’s diverse course topics. Most multilingual students, especially those newer to North American academic contexts, need work understanding and practicing paraphrase, as distinct from both quotation and from patch-writing or plagiarism. This lesson builds on what students already know about summary and can help them write more complex summaries or pieces of analysis in the future.

Students will be able to convey accurately the meaning of an academic text and avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing and quoting effectively.

plagiarism, paraphrase, quotation, summary, citation, attribution, academic misconduct

Introduce these concepts to students at the start of WR 111 Unit 2, “Writing for and with Others.” At this point, students will be familiar with summarizing, as they will have submitted the basic summary, and been introduced to the concepts of paraphrase and quotation. In addition, students will have been exposed to the basic elements of BU’s Academic Conduct Codeas part of the acculturation unit. Paraphrasing can be compared and contrasted with summarizing as well as using quotations.

Conceptual Framework

Genre awareness.

This lesson precedes WR 111 students’ study of genre, but students should be made aware that genre does dictate when and whether we cite a source. In a newspaper article, for example, the writer may refer in words to the source of information or a quotation, but MLA citation, for example, is not required. Scientific research papers, law journal articles, and other academic papers may require footnotes rather than in-text citations.


This lesson begins with a question about students’ prior knowledge and has them reflect on the differences between their home country’s approach to intellectual property and plagiarism as compared with that of the U.S. It later asks students to reflect on what they know, and what they think they know, about what plagiarism is and what types of work are governed by the concept of plagiarism. You may assign a brief write-up on the challenges students experienced when reconciling the cultural conventions of attribution of their home countries and the U.S.



Key terms and definitions Summarizing is used to express the main idea of a written work. It omits small details and does not use the author’s words and structure. Paraphrasing is used when it’s important to convey every idea in the original piece of writing. It does not use the author’s words and structure. Quoting is used when the writer’s exact words are important because they are well-known or historically significant, or because they express a concept in a unique or noteworthy way, such as: “I have a dream,” or “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
Reasons to paraphrase (vs. quote) Your paraphrase demonstrates that you understand the text. You can make challenging material easier to understand by paraphrasing.   You will be able to smoothly integrate the paraphrase into a paper you’re writing by using the same style, structure, and organization.    A direct quotation may have details you don’t want to include in your paper. American academic practice values using your own words and discourages using quotations.


Key principles for paraphrase Use your own words to express the concepts of the original passage. Use your own sentence structure and organization, not the author’s. Provide attribution in correct citation form for the passage you paraphrased.
Key strategies for paraphrase Read the portion of text you want to paraphrase. Make sure you understand it. After you’ve read the text, make notes of what you read, without using the author’s words or structure. Using only your notes, write all of the important ideas of the text using own words. Compare your paraphrase with the original text to be sure you’ve included all of the ideas in the text and stated those ideas accurately. Review and revise your passage for grammar and spelling errors.

Variations and Follow-Ups

Alternative lesson ideas.

Suggested follow-ups

Suggested flipped learning modules

Further Reading

For students.

For instructors

See all Writing Program Essential Lessons Remote Implementation of Essential Lesson Activities

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Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words

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This handout is intended to help you become more comfortable with the uses of and distinctions among quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. This handout compares and contrasts the three terms, gives some pointers, and includes a short excerpt that you can use to practice these skills.

Paraphrasing is one way to use a text in your own writing without directly quoting source material. Anytime you are taking information from a source that is not your own, you need to specify where you got that information.

A paraphrase is...

Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because...

6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

Some examples to compare

Note that the examples in this section use MLA style for in-text citation.

The original passage:

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers . 2nd ed., 1976, pp. 46-47.

A legitimate paraphrase:

In research papers, students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester 46-47).

An acceptable summary:

Students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester 46-47).

A plagiarized version:

Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.

A note about plagiarism: This example has been classed as plagiarism, in part, because of its failure to deploy any citation. Plagiarism is a serious offense in the academic world. However, we acknowledge that plagiarism is a difficult term to define; that its definition may be contextually sensitive; and that not all instances of plagiarism are created equal—that is, there are varying “degrees of egregiousness” for different cases of plagiarism.

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paraphrase quotes meaning

What's a paraphrasing tool?

This AI-powered paraphraser lets you rewrite text in your own words. Use it to  paraphrase articles, essays, and other pieces of text. You can also use it to rephrase sentences and find synonyms for individual words. And the best part? It’s all 100% free!

What's paraphrasing

What's paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing involves expressing someone else’s ideas or thoughts in your own words while maintaining the original meaning. Paraphrasing tools can help you quickly reword text by replacing certain words with synonyms or restructuring sentences. They can also make your text more concise, clear, and suitable for a specific audience. Paraphrasing is an essential skill in academic writing and professional communication. 

paraphrase quotes meaning

Why use this paraphrasing tool?

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Features of the paraphrasing tool

paraphrase quotes meaning

Rephrase individual sentences

With the Scribbr Paraphrasing Tool, you can easily reformulate individual sentences.

Paraphrase an whole text

Paraphrase a whole text

Our paraphraser can also help with longer passages (up to 125 words per input). Upload your document or copy your text into the input field.

With one click, you can reformulate the entire text.

paraphrase quotes meaning

Find synonyms with ease

Simply click on any word to open the interactive thesaurus.

Paraphrase in two ways

Paraphrase in two ways

Upload any document-to paraphrase tool

Upload different types of documents

Upload any Microsoft Word document, Google Doc, or PDF into the paraphrasing tool.

Download or copy your results

Download or copy your results

After you’re done, you can easily download or copy your text to use somewhere else.

Powered by AI

Powered by AI

The paraphrasing tool uses natural language processing to rewrite any text you give it. This way, you can paraphrase any text within seconds.

How does this paraphrasing tool work?

1. put your text into the paraphraser, 2. select your method of paraphrasing, 3. select the quantity of synonyms you want, 4. edit your text where needed, who can use this paraphrasing tool.


Paraphrasing tools can help students to understand texts and improve the quality of their writing. 


Create original lesson plans, presentations, or other educational materials.



Explain complex concepts or ideas to a wider audience. 



Quickly and easily rephrase text to avoid repetitive language.



By using a paraphrasing tool, you can quickly and easily rework existing content to create something new and unique.


Bloggers can rewrite existing content to make it their own.


Writers who need to rewrite content, such as adapting an article for a different context or writing content for a different audience.


A paraphrasing tool lets you quickly rewrite your original content for each medium, ensuring you reach the right audience on each platform.

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The Scribbr Paraphrasing Tool is the perfect assistant in a variety of contexts.



Writer’s block? Use our paraphraser to get some inspiration.


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Paraphrase sources smoothly in your thesis or research paper.


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Frequently asked questions

The act of putting someone else’s ideas or words into your own words is called paraphrasing, rephrasing, or rewording. Even though they are often used interchangeably, the terms can mean slightly different things:

Paraphrasing is restating someone else’s ideas or words in your own words while retaining their meaning. Paraphrasing changes sentence structure, word choice, and sentence length to convey the same meaning.

Rephrasing may involve more substantial changes to the original text, including changing the order of sentences or the overall structure of the text.

Rewording is changing individual words in a text without changing its meaning or structure, often using synonyms.

It can. One of the two methods of paraphrasing is called “Fluency.” This will improve the language and fix grammatical errors in the text you’re paraphrasing.

Paraphrasing and using a paraphrasing tool aren’t cheating. It’s a great tool for saving time and coming up with new ways to express yourself in writing.  However, always be sure to credit your sources. Avoid plagiarism.  

If you don’t properly cite text paraphrased from another source, you’re plagiarizing. If you use someone else’s text and paraphrase it, you need to credit the original source. You can do that by using citations. There are different styles, like APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago. Find more information about citing sources here.

Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly cite the source . This means including an in-text citation and a full reference, formatted according to your required citation style .

As well as citing, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas in your own words.

So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?

  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
  • Paraphrasing  is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely in your own words and properly cite the source .

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

A paraphrase is a restatement of a text in another form or other words, often to simplify or clarify meaning .

"When you paraphrase," says Brenda Spatt, "you retain everything about the original writing but the words."

"When I put down words that I say somebody said they needn't be the exact words, just what you might call the meaning." (Mark Harris, The Southpaw . Bobbs-Merrill, 1953

Paraphrasing Steve Jobs

"I've often heard Steve [Jobs] explain why Apple's products look so good or work so well by telling the 'show car' anecdote . 'You see a show car,' he would say (I'm paraphrasing here, but this is pretty close to his words), 'and you think, "That's a great design, it's got great lines." Four or five years later, the car is in the showroom and in television ads, and it sucks. And you wonder what happened. They had it. They had it, and then they lost it.'" (Jay Elliot with William Simon, The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation . Vanguard, 2011

Summary, Paraphrase, and Quotation

"A summary , written in your own words, briefly restates the writer's main points. Paraphrase , although written in your own words, is used to relate the details or the progression of an idea in your source. Quotation , used sparingly, can lend credibility to your work or capture a memorable passage." (L. Behrens, A Sequence for Academic Writing . Longman, 2009

How to Paraphrase a Text

" Paraphrase passages that present important points, explanations, or arguments but that don't contain memorable or straightforward wording. Follow these steps: (R. VanderMey, The College Writer . Houghton, 2007

  • Quickly review the passage to get a sense of the whole, and then go through the passage carefully, sentence by sentence.
  • State the ideas in your own words, defining words as needed.
  • If necessary, edit for clarity, but don't change the meaning.
  • If you borrow phrases directly, put them in quotation marks .
  • Check your paraphrase against the original for accurate tone and meaning."

Reasons for Using Paraphrase

" Paraphrasing helps your readers to gain a detailed understanding of your sources , and, indirectly, to accept your thesis as valid. There are two major reasons for using paraphrase in your essays .

1. Use paraphrase to present information or evidence whenever there is no special reason for using a direct quotation . . . . 2. Use paraphrase to give your readers an accurate and comprehensive account of ideas taken from a source--ideas that you intend to explain, interpret, or disagree with in your essay. . . .

"When you take notes for an essay based on one or more sources, you should mostly paraphrase. Quote only when recording phrases or sentences that clearly merit quotation. All quotable phrases and sentences should be transcribed accurately in your notes, with quotation marks separating the paraphrase from the quotation." (Brenda Spatt, Writing From Sources , 8th ed. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2011

Paraphrase as a Rhetorical Exercise

"A  paraphrase differs from a translation in not being a transfer from one language to another. . . . We generally associate with paraphrase the notion of an expansion of the original thought by definitions , periphrasis , examples , etc., with a view to making it more intelligible; but this is not essential. Here is meant the simpler form, in which the pupil reproduces in his own words the complete thought of an author, without attempting to explain it or to imitate the style .

"It has been frequently urged against this exercise, that, in thus substituting other words for those of an accurate writer, we must necessarily choose such as are less expressive of the sense. It has, however, been defended by one of the greatest rhetoricians-- Quintilian ." (Andrew D. Hepburn, Manual of English Rhetoric , 1875

Monty Python and Computer Paraphrasing

"In the famous sketch from the TV show 'Monty Python's Flying Circus,' the actor John Cleese had many ways of saying a parrot was dead, among them, 'This parrot is no more,' 'He's expired and gone to meet his maker,' and 'His metabolic processes are now history.'

"Computers can't do nearly that well at paraphrasing . English sentences with the same meaning take so many different forms that it has been difficult to get computers to recognize paraphrases, much less produce them. "Now, using several methods, including statistical techniques borrowed from gene analysis, two researchers have created a program that can automatically generate paraphrases of English sentences." (A. Eisenberg, "Get Me Rewrite!" The New York Times , Dec. 25, 2003

The Lighter Side of Paraphrasing

"Some guy hit my fender the other day, and I said unto him, 'Be fruitful, and multiply.' But not in those words.” (Woody Allen)    "The other important joke for me is one that's usually attributed to Groucho Marx, but I think it appears originally in Freud's Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious . And it goes like this--I'm paraphrasing --'I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.' That's the key joke of my adult life in terms of my relationships with women." (Woody Allen as Alvy Singer in Annie Hall , 1977)

Pronunciation: PAR-a-fraz

  • How and When to Paraphrase Quotations
  • What Is Plagiarism?
  • Definition and Examples of Quotation in English Grammar
  • A Guide to Using Quotations in Essays
  • Definition and Examples of Direct Quotations
  • Examples of Signal Phrases in Grammar and Composition
  • What Is a Written Summary?
  • Quotation and Quote
  • Difference Between "Quote" and "Quotation": What Is the Right Word?
  • Guidelines for Using Quotation Marks Correctly
  • An Introduction to Academic Writing
  • How to Use Indirect Quotations in Writing for Complete Clarity
  • What Is a Citation?
  • How to Use Italics
  • How to Write a Good Thesis Statement

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Meaning of paraphrase in English

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  • din something into someone
  • drum something into someone
  • flog yourself to death idiom
  • reiteration
  • repetitively
  • restatement
  • I would take issue with your paraphrase of my position .
  • She does not follow Shakespeare's text but has devised her own paraphrase of it.
  • Allow me to end my first speech with my own paraphrase of the statement .

paraphrase | American Dictionary

Examples of paraphrase, translations of paraphrase.

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  • How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Published on 8 April 2022 by Courtney Gahan and Jack Caulfield. Revised on 15 May 2023.

Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning.

Paraphrasing is an alternative to  quoting (copying someone’s exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it’s usually better to paraphrase instead of quoting. It shows that you have understood the source, reads more smoothly, and keeps your own voice front and center.

Every time you paraphrase, it’s important to cite the source . Also take care not to use wording that is too similar to the original. Otherwise, you could be at risk of committing plagiarism .

Table of contents

How to paraphrase in five easy steps, how to paraphrase correctly, examples of paraphrasing, how to cite a paraphrase, paraphrasing vs quoting, paraphrasing vs summarising, avoiding plagiarism when you paraphrase, frequently asked questions about paraphrasing.

If you’re struggling to get to grips with the process of paraphrasing, check out our easy step-by-step guide in the video below.

Putting an idea into your own words can be easier said than done. Let’s say you want to paraphrase the text below, about population decline in a particular species of sea snails.

Incorrect paraphrasing

You might make a first attempt to paraphrase it by swapping out a few words for  synonyms .

Like other sea creatures inhabiting the vicinity of highly populated coasts, horse conchs have lost substantial territory to advancement and contamination , including preferred breeding grounds along mud flats and seagrass beds. Their Gulf home is also heating up due to global warming , which scientists think further puts pressure on the creatures , predicated upon the harmful effects extra warmth has on other large mollusks (Barnett, 2022).

This attempt at paraphrasing doesn’t change the sentence structure or order of information, only some of the word choices. And the synonyms chosen are poor:

  • ‘Advancement and contamination’ doesn’t really convey the same meaning as ‘development and pollution’.
  • Sometimes the changes make the tone less academic: ‘home’ for ‘habitat’ and ‘sea creatures’ for ‘marine animals’.
  • Adding phrases like ‘inhabiting the vicinity of’ and ‘puts pressure on’ makes the text needlessly long-winded.
  • Global warming is related to climate change, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing.

Because of this, the text reads awkwardly, is longer than it needs to be, and remains too close to the original phrasing. This means you risk being accused of plagiarism .

Correct paraphrasing

Let’s look at a more effective way of paraphrasing the same text.

Here, we’ve:

  • Only included the information that’s relevant to our argument (note that the paraphrase is shorter than the original)
  • Retained key terms like ‘development and pollution’, since changing them could alter the meaning
  • Structured sentences in our own way instead of copying the structure of the original
  • Started from a different point, presenting information in a different order

Because of this, we’re able to clearly convey the relevant information from the source without sticking too close to the original phrasing.

Explore the tabs below to see examples of paraphrasing in action.

  • Journal article
  • Newspaper article
  • Magazine article

Once you have your perfectly paraphrased text, you need to ensure you credit the original author. You’ll always paraphrase sources in the same way, but you’ll have to use a different type of in-text citation depending on what citation style you follow.

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It’s a good idea to paraphrase instead of quoting in most cases because:

  • Paraphrasing shows that you fully understand the meaning of a text
  • Your own voice remains dominant throughout your paper
  • Quotes reduce the readability of your text

But that doesn’t mean you should never quote. Quotes are appropriate when:

  • Giving a precise definition
  • Saying something about the author’s language or style (e.g., in a literary analysis paper)
  • Providing evidence in support of an argument
  • Critiquing or analysing a specific claim

A paraphrase puts a specific passage into your own words. It’s typically a similar length to the original text, or slightly shorter.

When you boil a longer piece of writing down to the key points, so that the result is a lot shorter than the original, this is called summarising .

Paraphrasing and quoting are important tools for presenting specific information from sources. But if the information you want to include is more general (e.g., the overarching argument of a whole article), summarising is more appropriate.

When paraphrasing, you have to be careful to avoid accidental plagiarism .

Students frequently use paraphrasing tools , which can be especially helpful for non-native speakers who might have trouble with academic writing. While these can be useful for a little extra inspiration, use them sparingly while maintaining academic integrity.

This can happen if the paraphrase is too similar to the original quote, with phrases or whole sentences that are identical (and should therefore be in quotation marks). It can also happen if you fail to properly cite the source.

To make sure you’ve properly paraphrased and cited all your sources, you could elect to run a plagiarism check before submitting your paper.

To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:

  • Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive , or start from a different point)
  • Combining information from multiple sentences into one
  • Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
  • Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning

The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.

Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly reference the source . This means including an in-text referencing and a full reference , formatted according to your required citation style (e.g., Harvard , Vancouver ).

As well as referencing your source, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words.

So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?

  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
  • Paraphrasing  is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely into your own words and properly reference the source .

To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

  • Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
  • You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
  • You’re presenting a precise definition
  • You’re looking in depth at a specific claim

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

Gahan, C. & Caulfield, J. (2023, May 15). How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 5 June 2023, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/working-sources/paraphrasing/

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How to Paraphrase a Quote Without Plagiarizing

Table of Contents

Before learning how to paraphrase a quote , you must understand its context, cultural, political, and hidden connotations. When paraphrasing, it is your responsibility to portray the author’s meaning and any subtext accurately.

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Note down everything that catches your eye. If you believe that a particular aspect (word, phrase, or thought) contributes to the quotation’s central theme, note it. Search them up if there are any obscure words, concepts, or meanings.

One method writers employ to avoid plagiarism is paraphrasing. In addition to straight quotations and summaries, paraphrasing is acceptable to incorporate another person’s work into your writing.

Sometimes, paraphrasing a quotation is more effective than quoting it directly . Let’s see what the different terms mean and how to paraphrase quotes effectively.

When paraphrasing, it is your responsibility to accurately portray the author's meaning and any subtext.

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What Does it Mean to Quote?

The author’s precise words are repeated in a quote. In certain HASS fields, such as literature studies and history, quotations are regularly utilized to bolster an argument. In other subjects, especially STEM, it’s rarely used.

Importantly, selecting pertinent quotations and presenting them accurately usually strengthens the credibility of your arguments and preserves your academic integrity.

When to Use Quotes

When an author proposes a new theory, model, concept, method, or scale or defines a notion, direct quoting may be suitable. Other reasons to use quotes include where:

  • It would be difficult to communicate the author’s thoughts in any other manner.
  • The author is a recognized expert on the topic, and their remarks will offer credibility to your argument.
  • You are asked to justify your interpretation or analysis of a literary work with examples.

Keep the quotation as concise as feasible, and include it into your argument or discussion. This involves contextualizing the quotation and commenting on it to demonstrate its relevance to your argument. All citations must include page numbers for all quotations.

How to Properly Cite Short Quotations

Different citation styles define short and long quotations differently.

For a brief quotation (two or three lines or fewer), enclose the necessary words in quotation marks and integrate them into your phrase.

Consider the following brief quotation examples. Note the format of the quotations within the sentences and the contextualization information.

Citing Long Quotations

According to the citation style, quotations longer than 30 or 40 words should be formatted as follows:

  • Separated from the remainder of the text by a blank line before and after
  • Have five spaces of indentation which may be printed in a reduced font size (Without quotation marks).

When Should You Paraphrase a Quote?

Directly quoting a source can be effective, but occasionally paraphrasing is preferable. Typically, paraphrasing makes greater sense when:

  • It’s a lengthy quote
  • The quote is poorly written, technical, or outdated.

1. Grasp the original quote

Before paraphrasing, grasp the quote, its context, and any cultural, political, or hidden meanings. You must express the author’s intention and subtext.

Note anything interesting. Note every word, phrase, or thought that contributes to the quote’s main point. Look up unclear terms, concepts, or meanings. If you’re paraphrasing someone from a foreign culture or time, check up on unfamiliar individuals, places, events, etc. 

2. Avoid the original words

Ensure your words convey the same idea. Use quotation marks to show that a term or phrase is not your own. Credit the quote’s author, source, and date in the text. 

Paraphrased words are yours, but the idea isn’t. Plagiarism involves not mentioning the author.

Additional Guide to Quote Effectively

1. the use of ellipses.

You must put ellipses (…) to denote where content has been removed. Your deletions should not affect the original quotation’s meaning. Where your deletions affect the original quotation, it is known as misquotation which is a grave violation of academic honesty.

2. Use square brackets []

You may need to add a word or phrase to a quotation so that it makes sense.

“Modern conceptions [of socialism] differ substantially from those of the 17th century.”

3. Inaccuracy in a Quotation.

Utilize [sic] to denote this. Do not fix problems in quotations.

Example: Clemsworth (2015) claimed “there [sic] was no proof from the office staff interviewed.”

Properly paraphrasing a quote is essential to ensure you don’t hurt the original author’s feelings or cause a reputation to plummet . Begin by understanding the original quote, and then put it in a way that makes sense to your reader. If there is a certain style of quotes you should avoid, it would be ones with a tone of certainty.

How to Paraphrase a Quote Without Plagiarizing

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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Paraphrasing - an overview

Paraphrasing is ..., what are the differences between quoting, paraphrasing & summarising .

  • Why Paraphrase?
  • Paraphrasing versus Plagiarism
  • The Do's and Don'ts of Paraphrasing
  • Paraphrasing - examples
  • Further Information

paraphrase quotes meaning

Paraphrasing is 'a restating of someone else’s thoughts or ideas in your own words. You must always cite your source when paraphrasing’ (Pears & Shields, 2019 p. 245).  

(Solas English, 2017)

  • Quoting means using someone else’s exact words and putting them in quotation marks.. 
  • Paraphrasing means expressing someone else’s ideas in your own voice, while keeping the same essential meaning.
  • Summarising means taking a long passage of text from someone else and condensing the main ideas in your own words.

Watch the video below for more information.  

(UNC Writing Center, 2019)

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  • Last Updated: Mar 23, 2022 12:41 PM
  • URL: https://lit.libguides.com/paraphrasing

The Library, Technological University of the Shannon: Midwest

The quote that distills why Donald Trump is facing federal indictment

paraphrase quotes meaning

Last week, CNN reported on the existence of a recording, taped at Donald Trump ’s golf club in New Jersey, in which the former president is heard talking to writers working on a book being written by Trump’s last chief of staff. In the recording, Trump made note of a document in his possession that was classified, a significant admission, given the indictment handed up against him this week.

Hours after news of the indictment broke Thursday, CNN published excerpts of the conversation.

“Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this,” Trump says, according to CNN. “This was done by the military and given to me.”

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Understandably, much of the focus on that quote has centered on the first part, in which Trump tells a visitor to his club about classified material. But what’s more broadly telling is the second part: where he says that the document was “given to me.”

The military did not give that document to Donald Trump, the guy sitting at Bedminster on the day the recording was made. The military gave that document to the president of the United States, to inform his decision-making on some national security issues. At the moment the document was handed over to the president, the person who received it happened to be Trump.

Trump’s failure to understand that distinction — between himself and the office he was granted — is at the heart of nearly every crisis that he’s faced since.

When Trump won election in 2016, it was unusual in a number of ways. An underrecognized one was that he didn’t come to the presidency through the normal channels. There was no career in which he had sought other offices and scrambled past opponents. There were no years seeing how policy was crafted or strengthening his understanding of the history and function of government institutions.

His supporters saw this as a strength: This was a guy not beholden to the Swamp! He would come shake things up! And then he got into office and tried to do things that legislators and the courts recognized were outside his purview, and he got more than one smack on the hand as a result. Eventually, through some combination of indifference and inexperience, he just let Congress bring him bills to tout, sign and spin.

But being an outsider meant he had no interest in rules governing the behavior of a president. The Hatch Act, which limits the use of government resources for politicking ? LOL, sure. The guy used the White House for his 2020 convention. He tried to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden by withholding a state visit, if not military assistance. He understood the power of the presidency but not the checks on it. And when he learned about those checks, there was no personal history of understanding why they were there and important, so he despised them.

Trump did not see the presidency as an enduring position in which he was granted the right to serve temporarily by the public. He saw it as another title held by Donald Trump. And, so, when the public told him in 2020 that they were revoking that right, he did everything in his presidential power to prevent that from happening. Happily, his effort came up short, but there was a cost.

So in mid-January 2021, Trump had to pack up at the White House. And in doing so, it seems, he looked around for the stuff he wanted to keep, put it in boxes and had it shipped to Mar-a-Lago.

We know this is how he behaved in general. Another of his various former chiefs of staff told CNN last year that from time to time during meetings, Trump would ask whether he could keep the material that he was presented.

“In my experience, the intelligence briefers most often would say, well, sir, we prefer to take that back,” Mick Mulvaney told CNN’s Erin Burnett — “but sometimes they forgot.”

Those documents were being shared by one part of the government with the president, another part of the government. Not to mention that, in this specific case, it’s hard to fathom why Trump would want the material. He was understood to be averse to reading the briefings he received; are we to assume that he was doing some extracurricular boning up on the issues?

This indifference to understanding that the presidency is one cog in the machinery of governance is not unique to Trump, of course. Many Americans share the idea that the presidency is superior to other branches, in part as a function of the way the president is elected. It is incumbent upon those who are within government or are appreciative of the complex way in which it holds itself to account to defend that process.

Trump had no interest in treating checks on his power as legitimate. He actively stoked the idea that those checks — impeachment and law enforcement investigations in particular — were themselves vile and corrupt. His supporters and allies in right-wing media, eager to curry favor and enjoy the sunlight of his attention, competed among themselves to reinforce those attacks. This was sometimes framed as a defense of the presidency but was really a defense of Donald Trump, the central star in the right-wing solar system.

So here we are. Trump was given documents, and so he kept them. Then, when the National Archives and Records Administration asked that he return those documents — since they belonged not to him but to the presidency — he told the Archives to pound sand. Ultimately, the government’s law enforcement arm had to go down to Mar-a-Lago to collect them.

That document that Trump showed to those writers was literally given to him, yes. But so was the presidency. And then America wanted both of them back.

More on the Trump classified documents indictment

The latest: Former president Donald Trump says he has been indicted in connection with the discovery of hundreds of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home. It’s the second time he has been indicted since March . Get live updates .

What happens next: Trump will appear in federal court in Miami for an arraignment on Tuesday at 3 p.m. Here’s a breakdown of what happens next in the case .

The case: The criminal investigation looks into whether Trump took government secrets with him after he left the White House and obstructed a subsequent investigation. Here’s what to know about the classified documents case .

Can Trump still run for president? While it has never been attempted by a candidate from a major party before, Trump is allowed to run for president while under indictment — or even if he is convicted of a crime.


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    1 : a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form The teacher asked the students to write a paraphrase of the poem. 2 : the use or process of paraphrasing in studying or teaching composition paraphrase, which aims rather at recapturing the general impression of a foreign work Times Literary Supplement paraphrase

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    Your writing, at its best Grammarly helps you communicate confidently Write with Grammarly What is paraphrasing? Paraphrasing takes an original passage and uses different words or phrases to express the same meaning. Essentially, a paraphrase just rewrites the original text in its own way.

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    Highlight a particularly striking phrase, sentence, or passage by quoting the original Distance yourself from the original by quoting it in order to cue readers that the words are not your own Expand the breadth or depth of your writing Writers frequently intertwine summaries, paraphrases, and quotations.

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  7. Paraphrase Definition & Meaning

    [ par- uh-freyz ] See synonyms for: paraphrase / paraphrased / paraphrasing / paraphraser on Thesaurus.com noun a restatement of a text or passage giving the meaning in another form, as for clearness; rewording. the act or process of restating or rewording. verb (used with object), par·a·phrased, par·a·phras·ing.

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    PART I: CHECK FOR PRIOR KNOWLEDGE Ask students what they know or have heard about plagiarism, paraphrasing, and direct quotation; whether plagiarism and intellectual property exist as concepts in their home countries and whether there are academic consequences for plagiarism. Discuss whether students know that plagiarism is a serious offense at BU.

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    Our rewording tool is free and easy to use—with just the click of a button, the paraphrasing tool will rephrase your sentence, paragraph, essay, or article to your liking, with many options available to customize and perfect the reworded text. Millions are becoming better writers


    repetitively restatement tautology See more results » paraphrase noun [ C ] us / ˈper.ə.freɪz / uk / ˈpær.ə.freɪz / A paraphrase of something is the same thing written or spoken using different words, often in a simpler and shorter form that makes the original meaning clearer: She gave us a quick paraphrase of what had been said.

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    Citation Tools Knowledge Base Free Paraphrasing Tool Rephrase sentences and paragraphs instantly with the help of AI. No sign-up required. Try our other writing services Proofreading & Editing by professional editors AI Grammar Checker: Most accurate free grammar checker Plagiarism Checker: Your writing plagiarism-free

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    quote grammatical by altering verb tense or adding or taking away capitalization. You can also alter the quote slightly with brackets in order to avoid confusion. For example: "[H]uggability endear[s] [Zaboomafoo] to thousands of children" (Soria 4). Use brackets sparingly and, of course, never alter the meaning of the quote.


    paraphrase definition: 1. to repeat something written or spoken using different words, often in a humorous form or in a…. Learn more.

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    Paraphrasing means putting someone else's ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning. Paraphrasing is an alternative to quoting (copying someone's exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it's usually better to paraphrase instead of ...

  19. How to Paraphrase a Quote Without Plagiarizing

    Avoid the original words. 1. The use of Ellipses. 2. Use square brackets [] 3. Inaccuracy in a Quotation. Before learning how to paraphrase a quote, you must understand its context, cultural, political, and hidden connotations. When paraphrasing, it is your responsibility to portray the author's meaning and any subtext accurately.

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  21. What is Paraphrasing?

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  22. The quote that distills why Donald Trump is facing federal indictment

    Last week, CNN reported on the existence of a recording, taped at Donald Trump's golf club in New Jersey, in which the former president is heard talking to writers working on a book being ...