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Basic Paraphrasing Techniques

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First, try to intuitively paraphrase a phrase or sentence; however, if you get stuck, you can use a combination of these techniques.

1. Use synonyms or antonyms.

2. Change word order.

3. Change a word from one part of speech to another.

4. Use an alternative sentence structure.

5. Use a negative form for an affirmative sentence (or use an affirmative form for a negative sentence).

6. Combine short sentences (or divide long sentences).

7. Use pronouns to replace nouns (or use nouns to replace pronouns).

8. Remember, do not change proper names or terms that have only one form or are accepted for a particular field (e.g. in law: “copyright” is “copyright.”)


ORIGINAL. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote. (US Constitution, Article 1)


PARAPHRASE. Each state legislature will select two senators. Each senator will serve a six year term and have one vote in the Senate of the United States.


EXERCISE 21.Read some of the constitutional amendments given below and paraphrase the sentences using easier language. Present your paraphrase in class. Follow the given example (Amendment 6)




The first ten amendments to the US Constitution (ratified in 1791) are known as the Bill of Rights. They describe, in broad terms, many of people’s essential rights and freedoms.


AMENDMENT 1 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.





AMENDMENT 2. A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.




AMENDMENT 3. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.




AMENDMENT 4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searchers and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.




AMENDMENT 5. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence; to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.





AMENDMENT 6. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.




The 6-th amendment guarantees the right to a speedy trial by jury, to be informed of charges, confront witnesses, and have legal advice._________________________________________


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