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English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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4.3 Reorganising the original text

To correctly paraphrase a text it is necessary to replace as many words as possible with your own words and also to reorganise the information in the sentences while still keeping the original meaning.

Activity 7

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Reread the original text and compare it with the paraphrase below. How does the organisation of the two texts differ? Make your notes in the box before comparing your answer with mine.

Original text

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.


Fortey (2008) defines the species as the basic element of biological diversity. In identifying a species, scientists follow two methods. They consider the resemblance between members of the same species and the ability of males and females of this species to generate offspring that can also breed (Peasgood and Goodwin, 2011, p. 38).

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  1. The paraphrase has eliminated the bullet points. It uses a sentence to introduce two methods and places these two methods in the following sentence.
  2. The structure of the definition has been changed. It is useful to know different ways in which to define a technical term. Therefore the definition, ‘As Fortey (2008) notes, the species is the fundamental unit of biological diversity’, can also be rephrased in the following ways:
    • As Fortey (2008) states, the species is defined as the basic element of biological diversity.

    • According to Fortey (2008), the basic element of biological diversity is the species. Fortey (2008) defines the species as the basic element of biological diversity.

  3. The paraphrase uses the words resemblance and ability instead of resemble and are able. For this reason the writer has had to change the organisation of the sentence. In order to do this it has been necessary to include the word consider.

Changing the organisation of a sentence while keeping the meaning of the original text can be difficult at first and most people learn to do this with practice and over a period of time. University students tend to start by simply using synonyms and, with practice and the help of their tutors, gradually develop the ability to also reorganise the original text.