English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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English: skills for learning

4.1 Using synonyms

A synonym is a word that has a very similar meaning to another word. For example, the words intelligent and smart are synonyms. In order to paraphrase a sentence, it is necessary to replace most of its words with synonyms.

The only words that should not be replaced are the technical terms contained in the text. For example, in a text about the environment, the words species and biological diversity are considered technical terms.

In the next activity you will practise choosing synonyms using the following text taken from the Open University course Introducing environment.

As Fortey (2008) notes, the species is the fundamental unit of biological diversity.

Scientists use two approaches to identify a species:

  1. Members of the same species normally resemble each other.
  2. Male and female members of the same species can produce offspring that are also able to reproduce.
(Adapted from Peasgood and Goodwin, 2011, p. 38)

Activity 6

Allow approximately 10 minutes

Below are some sentences taken from the Introducing environment text shown above. Choose the correct synonyms of the words in italics. You may want to look up each word in an online dictionary such as the Oxford English Dictionary [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . However, bear in mind that when you are working with a text, the synonym you choose will depend on the context. Just looking up words in a dictionary might not work.

  1. As Fortey (2008) notes, the species is the fundamental unit of biological diversity.

a. 

feels


b. 

reveals


c. 

states


The correct answer is c.

Answer

states

Another way to express the same meaning is: ‘According to Fortey (2008), …’

  1. … the species is the fundamental unit of biological diversity.

a. 

basic


b. 

serious


c. 

natural


The correct answer is a.

Answer

basic

  1. the species is the fundamental unit of biological diversity.

a. 

piece


b. 

department


c. 

element


The correct answer is c.

Answer

element

  1. Scientists use two approaches to identify a species.

a. 

methods


b. 

means


c. 

systems


The correct answer is a.

Answer

methods

  1. Members of the same species normally resemble each other.

a. 

traditionally


b. 

generally


c. 

regularly


The correct answer is b.

Answer

generally

  1. Members of the same species normally resemble each other.

a. 

echo


b. 

look similar


c. 

correspond


The correct answer is b.

Answer

look similar

  1. Male and female members of the same species can produce offspring.

a. 

generate


b. 

make


c. 

create


The correct answer is a.

Answer

generate

  1. … can produce offspring that are also able to reproduce.

a. 

breed


b. 

copy


c. 

duplicate


The correct answer is a.

Answer

breed

Here you can see the complete text with the correct synonyms inserted.

As Fortey (2008) states, the species is the basic element of biological diversity. Scientists use two methods to identify a species:

  1. Members of the same species generally look similar.
  2. Male and female members of the same species can generate offspring that are also able to breed.

When you look up a word to find a synonym, you will be given a choice of possible words. In order to choose the most appropriate one, you need to look at its definition and make sure the word fits the specific context in which you want to use it.

Replacing some words of the original text is a useful strategy. However, it is not sufficient on its own as following only this strategy leads to writing a paraphrase that is very similar to the original text. If students change only a few words they will miss the opportunity to show that they have fully understood the original text and may also be accused of plagiarising – in other words, presenting other people’s work as their own.

SWE_1

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