If you’re good at paraphrasing, you’ve already got an essential skill for succeeding on IELTS writing task 2. If you’re not, we’re here to help!

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is when you take an original idea and re-write it to express the same meaning, but in a different way. This might be by changing words, word forms, sentence structure, or using synonyms. If you think this is just for writing academic papers, think again. We actually paraphrase all the time!

When you read a book, article, or watch a movie and tell your friends about it, you are paraphrasing. When you tell your friend or colleague about a conversation you had with your boss, you are paraphrasing. You are not repeating the original conversation word for word. You are giving them the main idea of the conversation using your own words.

IELTS Writing Task 2: Why do you need to paraphrase?

Paraphrasing is important to the IELTS writing task 2 because your introduction paragraph is basically a paraphrase of the essay prompt. You will need to re-write the essay prompt in your own words to introduce your essay.

Watch Jay break down the IELTS writing task 2 introduction right here:

Three ways to paraphrase for IELTS writing task 2

Before you attempt to paraphrase, you need to make sure that you understand the gist, or meaning of the paragraph. Paraphrasing is more than just changing words. Your paraphrase needs to make sense and still convey the original message. So, you should read the original text a couple of times to make sure you understand the message it conveys. Then turn the ideas over in your mind. Think of how you would express the same ideas to a friend.

Below are three techniques to paraphrase. Rather than exclusively using one of them, a good paraphrase includes all methods. 

  1. Use synonyms

Synonyms are different words that express the same or similar meaning.

For example: Interesting, fascinating, curious and amusing are all synonyms.

But! Some synonyms can have a slightly different meaning. For example, fascinating has a stronger meaning than interesting. So be careful when using synonyms. We need to make sure that the words we are using convey the same level of meaning as the original.

Example:

Original: Many people think that cars should not be allowed in city centres.

Paraphrase: Many people believe that motor vehicles should be banned in urban areas.

*Synonyms

think –> believe

cars –> motor vehicles

should not be allowed –> should be banned

city centres –> urban areas

IELTS writing task 2
More synonyms to add to your vocabulary!
  1. Change the word forms

Another way to paraphrase is to change word forms. For example, changing a noun into a verb, a verb into a noun or an adjective into a noun or vice versa.

Example:

Original: Many people find watching tennis interesting (interesting = adjective).

Paraphrase: Many people have an interest in watching tennis (interest = noun).

Example:

Original: Some people think Facebook is an invasion of privacy (invasion = noun).

Paraphrase: Some people think Facebook has invaded our privacy (has invaded = verb).

  1. Change the sentence structure

A third way to paraphrase is to change sentence structure. This could be by changing the sentence from passive to active or vice versa, or changing the order of the clauses. Let’s have a look.

Active to Passive

Original: The hurricane destroyed the city.

Paraphrase: The city was destroyed by the hurricane.

In the sentence above, the subject (the hurricane) became the object, and the object (the city) became the subject.

To be passive, we also changed the verb destroyed into past perfect (was/were + past participle).

Passive to Active

Original: The public transport system was developed by the city council.

Paraphrase: The city council developed the public transport system.

In the sentence above the subject (the public transport system) became the object, and the object (the city council) became the subject.

 Order of clauses

A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb. Some sentences can be a single clause. Some sentences can be made up of two or more clauses.

For example: It is difficult to say whether the economy will improve.

The two clauses are: It is difficult to say / whether the economy will improve.

 One way to paraphrase is by changing the order of the clauses.

For example: Whether the economy will improve, it is difficult to say.

Let’s look at another example:

Original: During the summer, many people visit the temple.

Paraphrase: Many people visit the temple during the summer.

Paraphrasing an essay prompt to write your introduction

In IELTS Writing Task 2, you write your introduction by paraphrasing the essay prompt. In order to do this, you will need to unpack, or break the essay prompt into parts. Usually, an essay prompt consists of three parts:

A general statement that introduces the topic

A specific statement that gives you the specific idea about the topic

Finally, your instructions/question

IELTS Writing Task 2
We all know that Boromir from Lord of the Rings gives the best advice…

Let’s look at an example:

Nowadays, more and more foreign students are going to English-speaking countries to learn the international language – English. It is undoubtedly true that studying English in an English-speaking country is the best way, but it is not the only way to learn it. Do you agree or disagree with the above statement?

To unpack this prompt, the first sentence is the general statement. Nowadays, more and more foreign students are going to English-speaking countries to learn the international language – English. This tells us what the essay topic is.

The second sentence is the specific statement. It is undoubtedly true that studying English in an English-speaking country is the best way, but it is not the only way to learn it. It gives an opinion about the topic.

The third sentence is the question. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the above statement? This means you have to express your opinion on the second sentence.

So! In order to write your introduction, you need to paraphrase the three parts of this essay prompt.

Let’s look at an example of a paraphrase of each:

Sentence 1: Nowadays, more and more foreign students are going to English-speaking countries to learn the international language – English

Paraphrase: In recent times, a growing number of international students are learning English in English-speaking countries.

Sentence 2: It is undoubtedly true that studying English in an English-speaking country is the best way, but it is not the only way to learn it.

Paraphrase: Although it is beneficial to learn English in a country where it is natively spoken, there are other effective ways to learn it.

Sentence 3: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the above statement?

Paraphrase: I agree with this statement to a large degree.

Putting it all together:

Original (essay prompt): Nowadays, more and more foreign students are going to English-Speaking countries to learn the “international language – English”. It is undoubtedly true that studying English in an English-speaking country is the best way, but it is not the only way to learn it. Do you agree or disagree with the above statement? 

Paraphrase (introduction): In recent times, a growing number of international students are learning English in English-speaking countries. Although it is most beneficial to learn English in a country where it is natively spoken, there are other effective ways to learn it. I agree with this statement to a large degree.

Practice

Using a combination of the above techniques (synonyms, word forms, sentence structure), write an introduction to the following essay by paraphrasing the prompt below.

The overuse of natural resources ultimately exhausts them. This causes huge harm to the environment. Therefore, the government should discourage people from overusing such resources. To what extent do you support or oppose this idea?

 There are three possible correct answers:

Click here to show/hide answer 1

Exploiting natural resources will ultimately deplete them and lead to environmental harm. Therefore, the overuse of these resources should be discouraged by governments. I totally agree with this statement.
 

Click here to show/hide answer 2

The exploitation of natural resources results in their exhaustion. This causes environmental damage. Thus, governments should encourage people to take care not to overuse these resources. I agree with this to a large extent.

Click here to show/hide answer 3

Natural resources will ultimately be exhausted if we continue to overuse them. It damages the environment and should therefore be discouraged by governments. I agree with this statement to a large degree.

So, more than one paraphrase can be correct. There are many ways to say the same thing. There is also more than one way to paraphrase. The best way to paraphrase for IELTS Writing Task 2 is to use a combination of these techniques (synonyms, sentence structure and clause order).

Practice makes perfect!

Our E2Language IELTS experts can help you learn the rest of the method for IELTS Writing Task 2!

 

Jamal Abilmona is an expert IELTS teacher, curriculum designer and language buff. She has taught English for general and academic purposes in classrooms around the world and currently writes e-learning material for E2Language.com, providing online IELTS preparation for students all around the world.

 

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