Paraphrase Types, Characteristics and Examples

Sherman Hoover
Paraphrase Types, Characteristics and Examples

The paraphrase it is a reformulation of the meaning of a text or passage using other words. The word originated in Ancient Greece, where it meant "additional way of expressing oneself".

A paraphrase explains more simply, with easier to understand language, what a more complex text says. It is not translating from another language, but explaining in simple words in a way that is better understood, so that someone with less information can understand or to adapt it to another culture.

For example, "the signal was red" can be paraphrased into "the train was not allowed to pass because the signal was red".

Another example: "The rocket exploded due to Nitrogen." Your paraphrase could be: "The rocket exploded because it contained too much nitrogen, which produced an uncontrollable chemical reaction.".

Article index

  • 1 Characteristics of the paraphrase 
    • 1.1 Authenticity
    • 1.2 Objectivity
    • 1.3 Precision
  • 2 Elaboration
    • 2.1 Other paraphrasing tips
  • 3 Types of paraphrases
    • 3.1 Mechanical paraphrase
    • 3.2 Constructive paraphrase
    • 3.3 Translation paraphrase
    • 3.4 Paraphrase of comprehension
    • 3.5 Colloquial paraphrase
  • 4 Examples of paraphrases
  • 5 Importance
  • 6 References

Characteristics of the paraphrase

Before effectively carrying out a paraphrase, the main characteristics of the paraphrase must be taken into account, which are the following:

The authenticity

The paraphrase should keep all the important ideas from the original source, not just parts of it. Its construction should be completed using all the key ideas.


The paraphrase should not incorporate personal opinions, it should objectively reflect the ideas or thoughts of the authentic source.


The paraphrase should accurately reflect the original source's ideas, tone, and emphasis on the topic being discussed..


For the correct elaboration of a paraphrase, the following steps must be followed:

1- Read the original text to get into the subject, and know its meaning and intention.

2- Recognize the main idea or concept (since it summarizes what was said) and the secondary ideas or concepts (which complement what was said). If the main idea is deleted, the text cannot be understood.

3- Find any word or vocabulary with which you are not familiar. Use synonyms for difficult words.

4- Substitute the original words and ideas for others, attributing their own writing and language. Also, it is important to keep an approximate number of words from the original text.

5- Identify the source within the text (author, year, page).

6- When using phrases or words peculiar and exact to those of the original text, make sure to include them in quotation marks.

7- Preserve the original tone of the text; that is, if it is humorous, suspenseful, etc..

8- Imagine that you are writing a “translation” of the original text.

9- Read the paraphrase made and make the corresponding comparison with the original text.

Other paraphrasing tips

- Put aside the original text.

- Review your literal paraphrase, reviewing the sentences and words in your own style.

- Check the number of words in the two versions.

- Verify the meaning of your free paraphrase by reading it aloud.

- Contrast the free paraphrase with the original to verify if any omission or modification of information occurred.

- Make sure that any use of phrases, sentences or original words of the author are properly cited (in quotation marks) and attributed to the same.

Types of paraphrases

Mechanical paraphrase

A mechanical paraphrase is one in which the original words of the text are replaced by synonyms, or in other cases by similar expressions.

Therefore, in mechanical paraphrases the entire structure of the original writing is maintained; syntax stays almost the same.

It is important to note that although the idea is to replace some words with their synonyms or equivalent phrases, the most important thing is to preserve the same structure of the original text, since it is about creating a new text totally based on the original text.

Examples of mechanical paraphrase

- Original text: Miguel de Cervantes, "The Divorce Judge".

"MARIANA. Because I cannot suffer their impertinences, nor be attentive to cure all their illnesses, which are without number; And my parents didn't raise me to be a hospitable or a nurse.

A very good dowry I brought to power this basket of bones, which has consumed the days of my life; when I came into her power, my face was shining like a mirror, and now I have her with a rod of frieze on top.

Your grace, my lord judge, let me rest, if you don't want me to hang; look, look at the furrows that I have on this face, from the tears that I shed every day, to see myself married to this anatomy. "


“MARIANA: Because I can no longer suffer their recklessness, nor be always attentive to cure their illnesses, which are many; Well, my parents didn't raise me to be a doctor or a nurse.

My good dowry remained this sack of bones, which has spent the best days of my life; when i married him my face was clean and shiny and now it is dry and wrinkled.

At your mercy, judge, divorce me if you don't want me to hang; look at the furrows on my face, for the tears that I cry every day for being married to this man ".

- Original text: “The house was already vacant. Two men were waiting for Pedro Páramo, who joined them to continue on his way ".

Paraphrase: “The home was already empty. Several men were waiting for Pedro Páramo, who met with them to continue the journey ".

Constructive paraphrase

In constructive paraphrase, the content of the text is completely changed while keeping the same main ideas as the original text. The two texts have the same ideas but are said in a completely different way.

So, a constructive paraphrase is when the phrase or text is reworked keeping the main idea, although the structure is different..

Examples of constructive paraphrases

- Original text: "Jack of all trades, master of none".

Paraphrase: "If we divide our effort into multiple areas we will not be able to stand out in any".

- Original text: “The house was already vacant. Two men were waiting for Pedro Páramo, who joined them to continue on his way ".

Paraphrase:“The building was already empty. Pedro Páramo joined the men who were waiting for him to start the journey ".

Translation paraphrase

This paraphrase occurs when a text in its original language is translated into another language. Generally most translations are translation paraphrases, since certain idioms, words and syntax need to be changed so that the text with its main ideas can be understood in the new language.

So, when a translation is made from one language to another (for example, from English to Spanish) it may carry adjustments or small changes that accommodate the concept of the Spanish language..


- Original text: Song "And I love her", The Beatles.

"I give her all my love

that's all I do

and if you saw my love

you'd love her to

I love her ... "


"I give him all my love

that's all i do

and if you got to see my beloved

would you love her too.

I love her".

Understanding Paraphrase

Comprehension paraphrases are used to explain a particular topic in the words of the paraphrase..

It can be said that it is quite common when it comes to making a summary or explaining a complicated topic.

It is used to memorize a complex text or subject. In short, it is about explaining something in your own words.

Example of comprehension paraphrase

- Original text: Pythagoras theorem.

"In a right triangle, the sum of the square of the legs is equal to the square of the hypotenuse".

Paraphrase: “In triangles that have a right angle, when multiplying by itself the measure of each smaller side, called the leg, and adding the two results, this sum is equal to the result of multiplying by itself the measure of the longest side , called hypotenuse ".

Colloquial paraphrase

Colloquially, paraphrase is also used when a literary fragment or a text or song is applied to a situation or person, placing them within a context similar to that of the quote.


- Original text: colloquial expression containing local idiosyncrasy.

"It was so much the work in the office, that we were already like the song:" ... and they gave us ten and eleven, twelve and one and two and three, and working at dawn the moon found us ... "

Paraphrase: "It was so much work that hours went by without realizing it and we woke up working".

Examples of paraphrases

1- "His life passed during several years of great changes for women."

Maria lived during a time of many liberal reforms for women.

2- “Giraffes like acacia and grass leaves; they can consume 75 pounds of food a day. "

A giraffe can eat up to 75 pounds of acacia leaves and grass each day.

3- "Any trip to Italy must include a visit to Tuscany to taste its exquisite wines."

Be sure to include a Tuscany wine tasting experience when you visit Italy.

4- "The global spread of the language is not only a problem for its teachers and students."

The language has spread throughout the world, therefore it is relevant to many people all over the planet..

5- "It is believed that there is a difference between experimentation and observation due to the conditions in which they occur"

Observation and experimentation can be presumed to be different since they originate in different circumstances.

6- "The man who saw me born is an excellent doctor."

The doctor who attended my delivery has great skills.

7- "Our preferences are shaped by the way we see the world."

Our inclinations are influenced by the way our brains react to the world.

8- "The crowd told Hiranya Varma what had happened to his friend and he, calling his rats, came to his aid."

Thanks to the crowd, Hiranya Varma was immediately informed about the situation that had happened to his partner and assisted by the rats, he came to their aid..

9- "April is like a child who smiles while walking"

A smiling child who walks is the essence of spring.

10- "Lifestyle, such as diet and weight, are being recognized as important factors when diagnosing breast cancer."

It is now believed that factors in everyday life, such as weight and diet, influence the diagnosis of breast cancer..

11- “In that first terrible moment, his blood froze instantly. Before his eyes the entire universe swam around him like a dark mist. "

The single sight of the collapse of his world was present before him; surrounded by darkness trembles scared.

12- "We are trying to understand how people value their time."

Currently, we try to understand how other people evaluate their available time.

13- "It is important to appreciate that other people can act differently from ours."

The macro diversity of attitudes visible in all human beings is admirable.

14- "He was saddened by the bad news."

The news got him down.

15- "I work part time and have a good salary, but my boss drives me crazy."

Although I get paid pretty well at my part-time job, I don't get along with the manager.

16- "Going to university is quite difficult but it is worth it."

Attending an institution of higher education can be challenging. However, it's worth it in the end.

17- "The ceiling of the cystine chapel was painted by Michelangelo."

Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the cystine chapel.

18- "Life begins at the end of our comfort zone."

The best things in life are often outside our comfort zones.

19- "Each mind is a world."

Each individual has their own thoughts and ideas that are formed in their brains and in their minds; that's why each person sees the world differently.

20- "Last summer the tornado completely destroyed the city."

Some time ago, a storm caused great damage throughout the city.

21- "We must work on the three great existing problems."

We should focus on solving the three biggest problems we are currently facing.

22- "It seemed that a cat had eaten his tongue"

I was very quiet.

23- "The sum of the square of the legs of a right triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse"

If the measures of each shorter side (legs) of a triangle with right angles are multiplied by themselves and the two results are added, this operation will be equal to the multiplication of the measures of the longest sides (hypotenuses) of themselves.

24- "Niagara Falls are visited by thousands of tourists a year."

Every year thousands of people visit Niagara Falls.

25- "Man was never taller than 1 meter 67 centimeters, but in the field of American literature, William Faulkner is a giant."

Although he was not very tall, the writer William Faulkner had a great influence on literature ".


The use of paraphrasing is a valuable element for teaching and learning, because the original text is respected but the content can be expanded to make it more understandable and didactic.

It can be useful as a study and research strategy. In addition, it is a means for students to practice and improve their writing and reading comprehension..

It allows to enrich the vocabulary, in addition to developing the capacity for interpretation and creation. The paraphrase is considered as a method of reducing texts together with the summary, the synthesis and the synoptic table.

In carrying out a research work, it is useful to express in your own words what the different authors have said about the research topic (using the paraphrasing technique). Thus it is evident that they have been understood.

It is beneficial to use this resource in translations from one language to another to, in this way, have the freedom to express in your own words what has been understood from what has previously been read or heard.

This avoids literal translations that are often difficult and meaningless, by expressing distorted meaning or not contained in the original message..

Importantly, there is a fine line between plagiarism and paraphrasing. If the wording of the paraphrase is too close to the wording of the original content, then it is plagiarism.

The main ideas must appear, but the writing of the paraphrase must always be done by the person.


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