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Paraphrasing

A paraphrase is a restatement. Paraphrasing is an essential skill to master in the study of English literature. It's not always possible to quote the passages you would like to discuss; sometimes passages are too long and at other times too many quotes make your writing clumsy. It's important to be able to encapsulate the sentence or passage you wish to use, without copying the words. This is difficult because writers choose their words with care, which can make your own words sound poor in comparison. Perseverance is needed.

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  1. Choose the answer which best paraphrases the following.

    The minister and his aides drove away from the fraught meeting with a perceptible air of relief.
    When paraphrasing, the fewer words you use from the original sentence, the better.  This is within reason, of course:  some key words must be kept (in this case, these are:  'minister and his aides' and 'meeting')
  2. Choose the answer which best paraphrases the following.

    Before making their permanent move to France, the couple spent three years learning the language.
  3. Choose the answer which best paraphrases the following.

    'My little horse must think it queer / To stop without a farmhouse near / Between the woods and frozen lake / The darkest evening of the year.' - From Robert Frost's poem, 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'.
    If you find poetry especially difficult to paraphrase, don't worry!  The depths and layers of meaning in even the shortest lines of poetry make such worries natural.  When paraphrasing poetry, try to stick to the most literal meaning without neglecting the obvious subtext
  4. Choose the answer which best paraphrases the following.

    'Quietly the Brother Officer went out. / He'd told the poor old dear some gallant lies / That she would nourish all her days, no doubt. / For while he coughed and mumbled, her weak eyes / Had shone with gentle triumph, brimmed with joy, / Because he'd been so brave, her glorious boy.' - From Siegfried Sassoon's poem, 'The Hero'.
    Remember that exact quotes, such as 'poor old dear' are not paraphrased and should appear within quotation marks
  5. Choose the answer which best paraphrases the following.

    'Curley's fist was swinging when Lennie reached for it. The next minute Curley was flopping like a fish on a line, and his closed fist was lost in Lennie's big hand. George ran down the room. "Leggo of him, Lennie. Let go."' - From Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.
  6. Choose the answer which best paraphrases the following.

    'By that time I was shrieking. Jem yanked my hair, said he didn't care, he'd do it again if he got a chance, and if I didn't shut up he'd pull every hair out of my head. I didn't shut up and he kicked me. I lost my balance and fell on my face. Jem picked me up roughly but looked like he was sorry.' - From To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Try to avoid using the same words.  The third answer is a better paraphrase than the fourth because it uses 'felt apologetic' rather than 'looked sorry'
  7. Choose the answer which best paraphrases the following.

    '"I think you are tongue-tied," said Scully finally to his son, the cowboy, and the Easterner; and at the end of this scornful sentence he left the room.' - From Stephen Crane's short story, The Blue Hotel.
  8. Choose the answer which best paraphrases the following.

    The ghost of Banquo has entered and sat in Macbeth's place at the table. Macbeth: The table's full. Lenox: Here is a place reserv'd, sir. Macbeth: Where? Lenox: Here, my good lord. What is't that moves your highness? - Macbeth: Which of you have done this? Lords: What, my good lord? Macbeth: Thou canst not say, I did it: never shake thy gory locks at me. From Macbeth, by William Shakespeare.
    It is especially important to be able to paraphrase well when writing about a play.  Quoting directly from dialogue can sound very clumsy
  9. Choose the answer which best paraphrases the following.

    'I'm thinking about you. What else can I say? / The palm trees on the reverse / are a delusion; so is the pink sand. / What we have are the usual / fractured coke bottles and the smell / of backed-up drains, too sweet, / like a mango on the verge / of rot, which we have also.' - From 'Postcards', by Margaret Atwood.
  10. Choose the answer which best paraphrases the following.

    Line-drying the washing is better for the environment than using a tumble dryer.
    This paraphrase has kept the meaning of the original sentence while being worded differently

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