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Paraphrase and Summary Exercises

The exercises in this section provide opportunities for second language writers (ESL) of various proficiency levels to practice with paraphrase and summary writing.

Exercises in this section were developed by Kamal Belmihoub. Last Update May 29, 2014.

Please use the navigation bar on the left or the links below to access the individual exercises.

Basic-level Paraphrase and Summary Writing


Paraphrasing refers to rewriting a given sentence using your own words. When we need to use a sentence in our writing that someone else wrote, we paraphrase it. That is, we use the same idea(s) in that sentence and write it differently. In addition to using different words, we use different grammar. The main purpose of paraphrasing has to do with being able to use someone else’s ideas while we write our own texts. Of course, it is required that any writer acknowledges the original source using the proper citation format.


Original sentence: 
PayLess is closed because of the bad weather conditions.
Inappropriate paraphrase: 
PayLess is closed because of the bad weather. 

This paraphrase has too many words, such as “PayLess is closed because of” are repeated. It is important to use different words and grammatical structure, while keeping the same meaning of the original sentence.

Appropriate paraphrase:
Since the weather is terrible, the grocery store is not open 

As can be seen in the above example, in addition to using different words, the grammatical structure of the sentence was changed by starting with the second part (dependent clause) of the original sentence.


A summary should be a short version of a longer original source. Its main goal is to present a large amount of information in a short and concise text that includes only the most important ideas of the original text.


Original sentence:
“The movement toward education by computer is developing fast. Massive Open Online Courses, called MOOCs, are changing how people learn in many places. For years, people could receive study materials from colleges or universities and take part in online classes. But such classes were not designed for many thousands of students at one time, as MOOCs are.” (MOOCS Are Moving Forward , Voice of America, learningenglish.voanews.com)
Inappropriate summary:
Voice of America website:
“Computer education is growing fast. MOOCs are influencing how we study. People received materials from universities for a long time to be able to take classes online. MOOCs are the only ones thousands can take at a time.”
The inappropriate summary is almost as long as the original text, which is a characteristic of a paraphrase. A summary needs to be concise.
Appropriate summary:
 According to a Voice of America article, a fast-growing MOOCs movement allows thousands to take online classes at once, changing how we learn.
The appropriate summary keeps the original main idea and it is much shorter than the original text.

Intermediate-level Paraphrase Exercises


Source Material

Some argue that the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States ought to receive a path to US citizenship, while others claim that these immigrants need to be deported back to their home countries.

Inappropriate paraphrase

Some say that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States ought to receive a way for citizenship, while other people say that the immigrants should go back to their countries.

The inappropriate paraphrase is too close to the original sentence. Several words are the same and the complex structure of the sentence is the same. Deleting some words from the original sentence is not enough to write an appropriate paraphrase.

Appropriate paraphrase

Although some individuals maintain that undocumented immigrants should go back to their countries, others defend these immigrants’ right for a path to citizenship.

The appropriate paraphrase uses a different structure for the sentence, and most words are different from the original.

Paraphrase Summary Exercises List of Works Consult

List of Works Consulted

“American History Series: The United States Turns Inward After World War One.” Voice of America, 24 Nov. 2010. Web. 1 April 2013.

“Budgets Slash English Classes for Immigrants.” 8 Apr.. 2013. Web. 1 May 2013.

“Bullying.” Science Daily, n.d. Web. 30 May 2013.

“Business English Speakers Can Still be Divided by a Common Language.” Voice of America, 1 Mar. 2011. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.

“Camaraderie of sports Teams May Deter Bullying.” Science Daily, 5 May 2013. Web. 30 May 2013.

“Childhood Bullying Increases the Propensity to Self-Harm During Adolescence.” Science Daily, 28 May 2013. Web. 30 May 2013.

“Exposure to Two Languages Can Have Far-Reaching Benefits.” Northwestern, 20 May 2009. Web. 1 May 2013.

“Global Economic Forum Rates Global Risks for 2013.” Voice of America, 11 Jan. 2013. Web. 30 May 2013.

“Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!” Voice of America, 25 Jan. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.

“Lifestyle Habits Lower Heart Failure Risk.” Science Daily, 13 Sep. 2011. Web. 30 May 2013.

“More Wins for TEA Party Activists, but Will They Win in November?” Voice of America, 17 Sep. 2010. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.

 “Movies Become Big Business in the 1920s.” Voice of America, 7 Dec. 2010. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.

“New Anti-Cancer Components of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Revealed.” Science Daily, 27 Dec. 2008. Web. 30 May 2013.

“New Hampshire Chinese Language School Attracts non-Chinese Students.” 30 Oct. 2009. Web. 1 May 2013.

“Quitting Smoking: Licensed Medications are Effective.” Science Daily, 30 May 2013. Web. 30 May 2013.

“Soccer Training Improves Heart Health of Men with Type 2 Diabetes.” Science Daily, 30 May 2013. Web. 30 May 2013.

“Tornado Season Returns, Voice of America.” Voice of America. 30 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.

 “What is the Human Relations Commission?” City of West Lafayette Indiana, 6 Mar. 2012. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.

“Women Edge Past Men in Getting Doctorates, Voice of America.” Voice of America, 5 Oct. 2010. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.

“World’s Population Reaches 7 Billion Voice of America. 4 Jan. 2012. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.