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How to paraphrase

A Beginner’s Method of Paraphrasing
When we write an essay, we often need to borrow ideas or concepts from other writers to support our position. One way we do this is by paraphrasing; putting someone else’s ideas into our own words.
To avoid plagiarizing we need to always include proper  citation – giving credit to the rightful owner.

How to write a paraphrase

        • Read the original passage to understand it fully
        • Rewrite the passage in your own words
          • First change verbs
          • Next change grammar
          • Use synonyms
        • Check your paraphrase for accuracy with the original
        • For APA in-text citation include author’s last name and date
        • For MLA in-text citation include author’s last name and page number


Original: Many international students come to the United States each year to learn English.

First change the verbs: Many international students travel to the United States each year to study English.

Next change the grammar: Every year students travel to the United States from many different countries to study English.

NoteStudents,countries, The United States and English are common knowledge, so they do not need to be changed.

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Supporting an Opinion

Because an opinion is a view that is not generally based on fact or knowledge, it is important for you, the writer, to give solid reasons for your opinion. Once you have stated your opinion in your thesis statement, you will need to support it with explanations, facts, or experiences.


You will not be able to prove your explanations, but they will help your readers understand why you have formed your opinion.


Facts on the other hand, whether historical, scientific, or just general knowledge, will make your opinion more plausible.


Experiences, especially  personal experiences, are convincing and show your readers why your opinion is real. Experiences can also help readers relate and connect to your situation better, which in turn will help them understand and accept your opinion.


  • Opinion: Chinese is a difficult language to learn.
  • Explanation: When studying Chinese, you need to study five to six hours a day to master basic communication.
  • Fact: Chinese is an ancient language dating back some three to five thousands years.
  • Experience: I studied Chinese Characters until I could read basic scripts fluently.
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Writing an Effective Essay

One of the secrets to writing an effective essay is to be organized in your approach.  Use the following steps as a guideline to writing your next essay.

  1. Understand the topic
  2. Read and annotate articles
  3. Collect quotations and paraphrases on cards
  4. Write a clear Thesis Statement with predictors
  5. Freewrite, brainstorm, or cluster
  6. Outline your essay
  7. Write a topic sentence for each predictor
  8. Decide on a logical order
  9. Write your first draft
  10. Revise checking for unity and coherence
  11. Edit checking for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors
  12. Write your final draft
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Preparing Your Final Draft

Download File pdf-155498_640 

Preparing Your Final Draft

Due date: ________________________

In preparing your final draft for your essay, you will edit, revise, and rewrite.

The first, look at the organization and content of your essay. Make sure your essay has a hook, a thesis statement (topic, controlling idea, three points of development), three body paragraphs with topic sentences, and supporting details, and a conclusion that restates the thesis statement, summarize, and includes closing remarks. Also, delete any sentences that are off topic and make sure your transitions are properly used to walk readers through your essay. (Avoid using first and second person pronouns, contractions, and words such as, always, never, a lot of, etc.).

Then edit your essay by looking for:

  • incorrect sentence structures
  • missing verbs
  • misspelled words
  • incorrect words

Check quotations for proper in-text citation. Use one of the two examples below. Each quote should be no more than one sentence.

Example One: According to, “Plants release water into the atmosphere through a process called transpiration.”

Example Two: “Plants release water into the atmosphere through a process called transpiration” (

You will then take your essay to your tutor and have them proofread it for you. After you have finished editing, revising, and rewriting, you will then write your final draft on the computer using WORD.

To set up your document, go to and follow the directions. (Essays that do not conform to this formatting will not be accepted).

Your essay should use:

  • Font: Times New Roman, 12 point
  • Line Spacing: Double-spaced
  • Indent First Lines: The first sentence of the paragraph is indented five spaces from the left margin.  This shows the reader where a new paragraph begins.
  • Margins: 1 inch on all size
  • Paper Size: 8 1/2 x 11 (Do not use A4 paper size)


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Writing Academically

If we want to convince or persuade others, our writing must be strong and clear.

Words or sentences that are typically appropriate in everyday language often weaken academic ideas if not properly used.

Below is a list of word forms that should be avoided.

There are / there is

When we use there are/is too much, we are using words that often weaken our sentences and ideas.

For example, look at the two sentences below and ask which one is stronger.

  1. There are many people who believe global warming is a critical issue.
  2. Many people believe global warming is a critical issue.

Number 2 is stronger because it comes straight to the point.  Simply by removing There are….who… our sentence is clearer and stronger.

always, never

If we use words such as always or never, we set ourselves up for criticism because, obviously, our claim cannot be supported.  Instead of using these words, we should use words like tend to, or likely, or most likely.

Look at the following examples.

Weak: Factories always contribute to the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. (You cannot prove “factories always…)

Strong: Factories tend to contribute to the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Weak: Politicians never listen to the concerns of the people.

Strong: Politicians tend not to listen to the concerns of the people.

Other words that should be avoided are all, really, very, and a lot of for the same reasons.

Wordy Verbs

Instead of using verb forms like make a reservation, or conduct an investigation, that tend to be wordy, replace the noun forms with the verb form.

For example:

“The officers investigated the cases.”  This sentence is stronger than, “The officers conducted an investigation into the case.”

“After much research, the team concluded that obesity is primarily caused by fatty foods.”  This sentence is again stronger than, “After much research, the team came to the conclusion that obesity is primarily caused by fatty foods.”

Other wordy forms that should be avoided are make an objection (object), provide assistance (assist), and make a contribution (contribute).


Strong academic language requires words to be clear and concise. Contractions should be avoided not only because they are used in informal language, but because they can also lead to misunderstandings.

Use the full forms instead of contractions.

do not instead of don’t

does not instead of doesn’t

is not instead of isn’t

cannot instead of can’t

he has had instead of he’s had

would have instead of would’ve

and so on

Personal Pronouns: I, me, my, you, your, we, us, our

In academic writing the use of personal pronouns, such as I, me, my, you, your, we, us, our, are generally avoided.  The reason is we do not want to refer to what we think or believe, but to solid evidence.

Instead of using pronouns, use direct language.

  • Instead of: In my opinion, global warming is causing damage to crops.  (This focuses the attention on “my opinion”)
  • Write: Global warming is causing damage to crops. (The focuses is on the evidence)
  • Instead of: I think art education needs to be incorporated into mainstream studies.
  • Write: Art education needs to be incorporated into mainstream studies.
  • Instead of: Before taking the final test of the course,you should study and be familiar with your notes
  • Write: Before taking the final test of the course, students should study and be familiar with their notes. 

Breaking the Rules

Sometimes you will want to use a personal experience in your essay.  This is where you can break the rules.  Use pronouns to establish the subject, but use them sparely — just enough to make your point.

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Using the Internet for Research

Probably one of the most popular sources for information today is the Internet.  If we type in a few key words, we have instant access to almost anything on a given topic.  But as accessible as it is we need to use it wisely as we research for information.

When determining whether a web site is reliable, there are four questions we need to ask.

  1. What is the purpose of the site?  Some sites are for-profit and their intent is to convince the viewer to buy their product.  Other sites offer a service and their intent is to inform the viewer to make the best decisions.
  2. Is the content relevant and clearly written? Content should be well organized and clearly written.  It should be relatively free from spelling and grammar errors.  It also should be up-to-date and accurate.
  3. Who are the writers of the website?  Writers should be qualified to write on the subjects they are presenting.  You should be able to access information about the writers and determine what their education and experience is in their field.
  4. Is the content biased, or is it objective? Some writers purposely slate their articles to persuade readers to their point of view. There is a place for persuasive writing, but generally speaking, academic writers should present their findings as objectively as they can allowing readers to form their own conclusions.

Just a word about Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is an open source for information on just about any subject. It is easy to access and many students use Wikipedia for their projects.  However, there is a downside.  The way the program is set up anyone can edit and add to almost any page.  Because of this there is no way to check the accuracy or reliability of the information. If you choose to use Wikipedias, make sure to compare the information to reliable sources.

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In-Text Citations

University courses use standardized formatting, such as MLA and APA.  If you are taking a science course you will probably use APA formatting.  If you are taking a course in the humanities, you will most likely use MLA formatting.

When paraphrasing or using direct quotations it is important to know how to properly format in-text citation.

APA In-Text Citation

If you are using APA in-text citation, you will need to include the author’s last name, the year of publication, and page number.

Abraham Lincoln was challenged to understand the complex issues involved in the war (Smith, 2007, p. 48)

According to Smith (2007), Abraham Lincoln was challenged to understand the complex issues involved in the war (p. 48).

Reedman (2013) stated, “For all appearances the war had ceased, but bitter feelings still lingered in the minds of many” (p. 138).

MLA In-Text Citation

If you are using MLA in-text citation, include the author’s last name and the page number where the paraphrase or quotation was taken.

Abraham Lincoln was challenged to understand the complex issues involved in the war (Smith 56).

According to Smith, Abraham Lincoln was challenged to understand the complex issues involved in the war (56).

Reedman stated, “For all appearances the war had ceased, but bitter feelings still lingered in the minds of many” (284).

If you do not know the author’s name, use an abbreviated form of the title with the page number in parenthetical citation.

“Technology has made it possible to predict how close meteors will travel passed the earth” (“Predicting Meteors” 2).

If your source uses a quote cited by another author, use “qtd. in” to show the original source.

Bates argues that schools must be responsible for “developing curriculum that ensures students succeed academically” (qtd. in Gibson 342).

When citing from the internet, if known, give the author’s name, article title, and website name.  It is not necessary to give a page number.

According to, “Actions in the digital world can have far-reaching consequences in real life” (“Online Social Networking”).

Web address should be written in the short form.  Ex: verses