How to Paraphrase Without Plagiarizing (Using AI)
Table of contents
Paraphrasing is all about being original without being original. It can be an invaluable skill when you borrow an idea, a concept, or a quote to support or strengthen a piece of writing — without having to copy-paste entire paragraphs.
When you learn how to paraphrase, whether it’s for a college essay or just everyday conversation, you can take a complex idea or statement and restate it using different words. This helps to make the idea or statement easier to understand and remember, which can be helpful when communicating with people who may not be familiar with the original terminology. It also helps to ensure that the ideas expressed are accurately represented.
Paraphrasing vs Summarizing
While both involve restating a sentence or passage, the difference is in what information you choose to include. Paraphrasing requires you to keep to the same essential meaning, while summarizing requires you to create an overview of the original text by picking out only the most important details.
For instance, when summarizing a text, you might include the main points, arguments, and conclusions, while when paraphrasing, you would restate the passage in your own words without necessarily including all of the details.
4 steps to paraphrase with AI
1. Read and reread
Read carefully through the text you are trying to paraphrase. Make sure that you understand the author’s point and context. It’s okay to read the text a few times to deepen your understanding and spark new ideas about how you might convey the meaning.
2. Break it down
Don’t try to paraphrase a lengthy wall of text all at once – you’ll end up missing out on important context and details. Instead, break up the original text into its various components and individual ideas, so you can rephrase each key point before you move on to the next.
3. Use your own words
Originality is key. To paraphrase well, you need your own words, not the ones that are in the original passage. Rewrite the ideas and keep the meaning intact but also vary your sentence length to make sure your writing flows well.
If you’re stuck and can’t think of a way to rephrase a sentence or a paragraph, use an AI writing tool like Wordtune to help you rewrite sentence by sentence. It even highlights the rewritten words in purple so you know exactly how much has been paraphrased.
4. Compare the two versions
Examine your own writing against the source material to make sure that you’ve retained the original meaning and nothing from the original source has been changed or misrepresented.
5. Run a plagiarism checker
Check to ensure that you have not used any of the original words. A plagiarism checker will help you identify a string of words or exact sentences that appear in the original text, and even alert you to other sources on the web that happen to have the same text.
You can either edit your text to remove any instances of plagiarism or put the words in direct quotations and credit the original author (and hyperlink to the source if it’s an online article). In addition, it’s always a good idea to proofread the paraphrased text.
4 handy tips to remember while paraphrasing
1. Lean on synonyms but don’t make it your sole strategy
While synonyms can help you rewrite a sentence without changing its meaning, you can't simply plug in words from the thesaurus. For example, if your original sentence says, "He is a tall man" and you decide to use the synonym "elongated" instead, you might end up with "He is an elongated man," which sounds strange.
Be careful not to overuse synonyms. It can make your writing sound stilted or unnatural. If you replace the word "happy" with "elated" in every sentence, it will make your writing sound contrived and repetitive.
2. Rearrange the flow of ideas
Reorganize the order of ideas to keep the reader engaged and provide a more cohesive narrative. If you’re sourcing material from a dense research paper, you may not need to follow the same order to explain concepts. You can add a hook or start with a simple data point to make the quoted material more readable and easier to understand. Then, connect one topic to another in a logical way to keep the flow going.
3. Change parts of the speech
Try turning nouns into verbs or adjectives into adverbs. This technique, known as conversion, is a great way to add variety and interest to your writing. For example, you could change the noun "idea" to the verb "ideate" or the adjective "beautiful" to the adverb "beautifully." Conversion helps to make your writing more unique and engaging but be careful not to make sentences unnecessarily convoluting. Another way to change parts of the speech is changing passive voice to active voice.
4. Shorten lengthy quotes
Nothing can put a reader to sleep faster than a long-drawn direct quote. Long quotes are difficult to understand and often contain a lot of extraneous information that is not relevant to the point. Pick a few words that best capture the essence, use quotation marks and paraphrase the rest in a concise manner.
Effective paraphrasing includes a personal take
A personal analysis helps build a connection with the reader and gives your content more originality. Simply paraphrasing a piece of text can save you from plagiarism but it won’t be anything to rave about. Instead, think about what the author is saying, explore the idea further, and add a personal take to leave the reader with that little bit extra.