|Tips for Paraphrases, Summaries, and Quotations
A paraphrase is taking a specific sentence or paragraph and rewriting it in your own words. Thus, it should be about the same length as the original piece of text you are paraphrasing, although the sentence structure and diction should be different than the original. Paraphrases always require a citation.
Original Text: “Students will float to the mark you set. I and the others in the vocational classes were bobbing in pretty shallow water” (333).
UNACCEPTABLE PARAPHRASE: Students will drift to the goal you make. Rose and others in the occupational classes were treading in water that wasn’t very deep (333).
-This is too close to the original language and sentence structure, thus it needs to be modified so that it is in your own words, or it needs to go back to the original language and be quoted.
Acceptable Paraphrase: Mike Rose and his fellow vocational education students were only doing the bare minimum of work to pass their classes because their teachers had set low expectations for them (333).
-This is acceptable because it changes the structure and diction but maintains the general meaning.
A summary is used to condense material. Thus, if the essay you are writing about is three pages long, the summary should be much shorter. Use summaries to condense the main ideas and plot information.
In Sherman Alexie’s essay, he uses the metaphor of breaking down a door to signify the way he is trying to breakdown cultural and linguistic barriers. “I throw my weight against their locked doors. The door holds” (Alexie 18).
-This is incorrect for two reasons; one, a quote cannot stand alone as a sentence (this is called a floating quote) and, two, the summary before the quote does not directly lead up to the quote.
In Alexie’s essay, he uses the metaphor of breaking down a door to signify the way he is trying to breakdown cultural and linguistic barriers. However, external factors often bar his progress. This is most evident when he states, “I throw my weight against their locked doors. The door holds” (Alexie 18), suggesting that despite his efforts some social barriers remain in place.
-This is more correct because it has an introductory phrase that notifies the reader of who is speaking and it explains the quote’s relevance. Also, it has a linking sentence between the summary and the quote that directly relates to the quoted material.
Do not separate a quote from an independent clause with a comma.
Alexie uses the metaphor of breaking down a door to signify the way he is trying to breakdown cultural and linguistic barriers, “I throw my weight against their locked doors. The door holds” (18).
-A comma is not strong enough to separate a quote from an independent clause; thus, a comma splice occurs when a comma is used in this manner. An easy solution to this problem is replacing the comma with a colon.