Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the University of Reading's online course, An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds Here we have a section from a source text and a section from Patrick’s essay on food waste in which he refers to it. Look at the examples from the original text and Patrick’s paraphrase. How has the writer re-expressed the ideas in his own words? How has the language been changed? What has been included and what has been left out?

Skip to 0 minutes and 36 seconds In his paraphrase Patrick wants to show that food waste is a serious problem, and he does this by providing evidence of the amount of food that is wasted in Europe every year, using a credible source, the European Commission. Now notice some of the ways he does this. The source text refers to “food waste” - a compound noun - but in Patrick’s paraphrase he uses a clause - “90 million tonnes of food are wasted” - with “waste” being expressed as a verb. In addition, the source text refers to the food waste “per capita”, but Patrick replaces this with a synonym, “per person”.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 seconds Patrick focuses on food waste in the retail stage of the supply chain, so he mentions some of the other sources of food waste, “households”, “manufacturing”, “food service”, and isolates the proportion of food waste in retail, 5%, from the data. He then calculates the total amount of food waste in retail, “4.4 million tons per year”, from the data given by the European Commission. The way that Patrick has processed the data, and made this calculation, shows that he has correctly understood the data from the source text. Notice also that in a paraphrase you do not have to change every single word. Indeed, key terminology in the field like “household”, “retail” should not be replaced with a synonym.

Patrick's essay: paraphrasing

In this video Jonathan provides an example of how Patrick has used paraphrasing in his essay on food waste using a credible source; the European Commission (2011).

Follow Jonathan as he explains how Patrick:

  • re-expressed the ideas and data from the source text in his own words
  • changed the language to avoid plagiarism
  • processed the data to make a calculation which demonstrates he has correctly understood the data from the EU report.

You can view the paragraphs from the video in this PDF document.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study

University of Reading