Think about this situation: You get a phone call from a salesperson (or telemarketer), and you listen for several minutes, thank the person but mention you are not interested, and hang up. Your friend asks you who called and what they wanted. You say something like "It was just a guy from a window company telling me how much it would cost to get new windows that are so easy to clean because of how they open up. I told him I wasn't interested."
This is an example of paraphrasing! You have taken someone else's words and changed them into your own. You did NOT change the meaning of his words in any way, and yet you did not repeat word for word (verbatim) exactly what he said to you. You put his thoughts into your own words to tell your friend the main reason why he called.
We paraphrase every single day. We have appointments with doctors or zoom lessons with classes, and someone will ask how it went or what we studied. When you tell others something that happened, your words are paraphrased; you tell your family the most important things the doctor told you. You tell your friends what happened in class last night. When you do this, you are paraphrasing as long as you do not add anything more to the story.
An example of paraphrasing could be a person saying the following:
"Dr. Brown told me to take Advil for the pulled muscle (hamstring!) I have. He said to take it every four to six hours, and he thinks the problem should heal in about two weeks. I can call him if anything changes, and I should make an appointment to see him again before the end of the month."
The person who stated the above paraphrased what her doctor told her at a visit that day. She did not say word-for-word exactly what the doctor said; instead, she put the most important parts of her visit into her own words to tell her family. She did not add anything more or try to figure out what he meant by his words.
Let's try some paraphrasing activities!
1) Jean tells you the following: "I am taking a class in painting, and I am so excited! I have a list of items to buy today--brushes, certain types of paint, a canvas, and even a palette. I will be learning all different techniques in this class--I can't wait!"
Now, let's paraphrase. To try it out, let's pretend I ask you what Jean said and you answer me in one sentence. What would you tell me?
2) You read in "Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo--Compassion" that Gayle Sayers "decided on Kansas for the better opportunities he thought it would give him to play professional football." Paraphrase this quote.
3) "Roger and Bernice did their very best to channel their sons' energies into the most appropriate outlets."
Paraphrase this quote.
4) "The Sayers' household became a recruiting ground for colleges."
Paraphrase this quote.
5) In Phoenix, Arizona, this week, temperatures were 80 degrees on Sunday, 81 on Monday, 82 on Tuesday, and 80 on Wednesday.
Paraphrase this statement in a short sentence!