Text: Paraphrasing a Thesis Statement

We’ve discussed the fact that every piece of writing has a thesis statement, a sentence that captures the main idea of the text. Some are explicit–stated directly in the text itself. Others are implicit–implied by the content but not written in one distinct sentence.

You’ll remember that the “How to Identify a Thesis Statement” video offered advice for locating a text’s thesis statement. Remember when it asks you to write 1 or 2 sentences that summarize the text? When you write that summary, without looking at the text itself, you’ve actually paraphrased the thesis statement.

Review this process by re-watching the video here.

Paraphrasing is a skill that asks you to capture the idea of a text, without using any of the same words. This is harder to do than it might first appear. Like advanced reading skills, it takes practice to do well.

As you paraphrase, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Paraphrases are roughly the same length as the original text. If the thesis sentence is a medium-length sentence, your paraphrase will also be a medium-length sentence (though it doesn’t have to have exactly the same number of words).
  • Paraphrases use entirely distinct wording from the original text. Common small words like “the” and “and” are perfectly acceptable, of course, but try to use completely different nouns and verbs. If needed, you can quote short snippets, 1-2 words, if you feel the precise words are necessary.
  • Paraphrases keep the same meaning and tone as the original text. Make sure that anyone reading your paraphrase would understand the same thing, as if they had read the original text you paraphrased.