Paraphrasing by changing sentence structure

ielts word countUseful paraphrasing technique in IELTS writing task 2.

One of the most important skills in IELTS writing is being able to paraphrase. This means to change the wording or the sentence structure but retain the same meaning.

It’s a challenge for many students doing IELTS to get used to this skill as you need to have a wide vocabulary and know how to use synonyms correctly.

There are 2 main ways to paraphrase. This can be done either with synonyms or by changing the structure of the sentence while adjusting the word-formation. In the writing section, you need to use this skill when starting the introduction of your essay. Let’s take a look at an example below.


Example IELTS writing question

  • ‘An increasing number of people are buying what they need online’

Paraphrased with synonyms:

  • ‘ A growing number of individuals are purchasing what they require on the internet

I didn’t paraphrase every word here. In fact, you do not need to paraphrase everything because sometimes you may not be able to find an accurate synonym.

Synonyms

  • Increasing – growing 

  • buying – purchasing 

  • online – the internet

  • people – individuals


Paraphrased without synonyms:

  •  ‘The number of people who buy what they need online is on the increase

In this second example, I have used the same words but changed the form and also moved the sentence structure around. This is a very good way to paraphrase if your range of synonyms is limited.

(gerund) buying – (relative pronoun + verb) who buy
(gerund) increasing – (noun phrase) on the increase

    • An increasing number of people are buying what they need online
    • A growing number of people are purchasing what they require on the internet
    • The number of people who buy what they need online is on the increase

All three of these above sentences convey the same meaning. This skill needs to be developed and is necessary to get to Band 7 or more in writing task 2. It is better for your vocabulary score if you can use synonyms as well as changing the structure of the sentence. The meaning must stay the same though.


Let’s try another 2 examples without using synonyms.

Example 1:

  • ‘Some people prefer to spend their lives doing the same things and avoiding change. Others, however, think that change is always a good thing. ‘

Paraphrased without synonyms:

  • ‘Some people find it preferable to avoid change and always do the same things in their lives, others think that it is good to go through changes.’

In this case, I have added collocations such as ‘find it preferable’ and ‘go through changes’.  These are not synonyms, I have kept the same word but changed the form and used collocation. I have slightly changed the sentence structure too.


Example 2:

  • ‘Doctors should be responsible for educating their patients about how to improve their health.’

Paraphrased without synonyms:

  • ‘Educating patients about improving their health should be the responsibility of Doctors.’

I have changed the structure of the sentences and reversed it around and made subtle changes to the word forms as below.

(verb) Improve – (gerund) Improving ,  (adjective) Responsible – (noun phrase) The responsibility of.


What would this look like in the introduction of an essay?

Task question:

‘Doctors should be responsible for educating their patients about how to improve their health. To what extent do you agree or disagree?’

Introduction:

It is argued that educating patients about improving their health should be the responsibility of Doctors. I completely agree with this because many people need advice from a medical expert about healthy eating and exercise which is crucial for preventing disease.

Blue= Paraphrased the task question
Purple= Thesis statement with my specific opinion.

Another way of writing this is by adding synonyms (in red), this introduction below would be much better:

Task Question:

‘Doctors should be responsible for educating their patients about how to improve their health. To what extent do you agree or disagree?’

Full Introduction with synonyms:

It is argued that it ought to be the responsibility of Doctors to instruct patients about improving their well-being. I completely agree because many people need advice from a medical expert about healthy eating and exercise which is crucial for preventing disease.


Paraphrasing also shows up in the reading and listening parts of the IELTS exam. This is a very important skill to work on, and if you can paraphrase with your speaking then you can get a good score in vocabulary.


Any questions? leave a comment below.

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