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Paraphrasing is an essential skill to be successful in IELTS writing tasks. When you paraphrase you express an idea in different words, e.g. instead of saying “I hate onion soup” you can say “Onion soup isn’t my idea of a good meal”. This is, of course, an everyday example, but you will have to do the same thing many times while writing your IELTS report and essay. You will first need to paraphrase the topic in your own words, because it is inacceptable to treat the task formulation as a part of your writing. Then throughout your essay you will have to paraphrase not to repeat yourself.
There are a number of common strategies of paraphrasing, which you should be aware of:
- Synonyms
- Descriptive synonyms
- Changing word order
- Changing part of speech
- Sentence combination and division
- Turning active into passive
Let’s have a closer look at all of these.
As you probably know synonyms are words with similar meaning. So, in terms of paraphrasing it means that you have to change a word into its synonym. Thus, you could use ‘ecological’ instead of ‘environmental’, or ‘penalty’ instead of ‘punishment’, or ‘convict’ instead of ‘prisoners’. Needless to say, you have to ensure that it is appropriate to change one into another in each given context. You can find some synonym lists in my blog using tag synonyms.
✒Descriptive synonyms
are word definitions. So, when you use this technique, you change one word into a group of words. For example, you could use ‘those in authority’ instead of ‘government’.
✒Changing word order and part of speech
speak for themselves. This means that you change the structure of a sentence. In doing so you can also combine two shorter sentences into a longer one, using e.g. relative clauses, or visa versa, divide long sentences into shorter ones.
✒Turning active verbs into passive and visa versa will enhance you grammar range score.
Surely, these are only basic guidelines and you don’t always notice in which exact way you’re paraphrasing, but now you have a general idea of how you could do it.
Now, practice paraphrasing the following topic sentences. Replace underlined words by their synonyms, use descriptive synonyms where I noted. Turn active into passive in the first example. Change the word order in the second.
  1. Developed countries have created many environmental problems in the World, particularly in their contribution to global warming. (active->passive)
Currently there is a trend towards the use of alternative forms of medicine.
2. However, at best these methods are ineffective (descriptive synonym), and at worst they may be dangerous(descriptive synonym). (order)
3. Some of the methods used in advertising are unethical and unacceptable (descriptive synonym) in today’s society.
Below are more IELTS essay topics for practice. Use any technique you find appropriate to write a sentence or two which can be a good introduction to an essay on each of these topics.
4. Levels of youth crime are increasing rapidly in most cities around the world.
5. People use computers when they work or go banking, but some argue that it will make people isolated and decrease their social skills.
6. Genetic engineering is an important issue in modern society. Some people think that it will improve people’s lives in many ways. Others feel that it may be a threat to life on earth.
7. Government investment in the arts, such as music and theatre, is a waste of money. Governments must invest this money in public services instead.
8. Formal examinations are the only effective way to assess a student’s performance. Continual assessment such as course work and projects is not a satisfactory way to do this.

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