IELTS Paraphrasing. Everything you need to know

IELTS Paraphrasing. Everything you need to know

Practicing for your IELTS test and devoting time to it, is crucial. My personal belief is that when you are serious about something, you will go the extra mile to reach your goal and succeed. That's why I believe investing in some tutoring, even if it is only a handful of lessons, should be a priority. When I have had to prepare for something that is important, I have always sought help from professionals. Simply because I want to get it right the first time.

What is paraphrasing?

In your IELTS test, one of the micro things you need to do (as part of the macro- the macro being your essay), is to successfully write a paraphrased sentence. Paraphrasing isn't something we think about it an obvious way, but its something you likely do quite a bit in reality.

Paraphrasing is just regurgitating a sentence in a slightly different way by using different words.

Why is it useful to know how to paraphrase?

  1. Paraphrasing will help you in your reading, speaking and listening tests as well. Think of it as a muscle. The more you exercise this, the better you will be at paraphrasing in any circumstance it could come up.
  2. Paraphrasing also provides clarity to the question or task being asked of you. By breaking the question down like this, it will mean you are going through the mental process of having a clear, accurate understanding.
  3. Paraphrasing also means that you are expanding your vocabulary, which again feeds into the other test types. If you are having to think of other words to successfully paraphrase, then you are consistently topping up your vocabulary. Think of it as a bank account. The more you practice paraphrasing, the more words you can deposit into your account.

How to paraphrase successfully

We want to keep things simple. There's no need to overload ourselves with complex methods. The more simple they are, the easier to remember. The three ways you can apply paraphrasing is through; synonyms, word order and changing the form of the word. Let's look at how to achieve this below.


Use synonyms to replace language. Synonyms are very much your friend in the IELTS test, and they represent knowledge of the English language.

Let's use a few examples

First example

  • The road was blocked with traffic
  • The road was congested with vehicles

Second example

  • The restaurant was extremely busy
  • The eatery was full of people

Third example

  • A heavy downpour took place for most of the afternoon
  • Significant rainfall occurred for the majority of the afternoon

You'll notice that I didn't change every word, but enough that the sentence reads differently but retains the same meaning. You do not need to change every single word. This would be too time-consuming, and some words cannot necessarily be changed, such as articles (a, an, the)


Only change the word when you are sure it has the same meaning. If you aren't sure, keep the same word and try applying a change of word order to the sentence.


  • Backpacking is popular amongst teenagers
  • Going on holiday is popular with young people

The problem:

Backpacking and going on holiday are not the same thing. A holiday can include a number of activities and may involve some backpacking, but it is not exclusive to backpacking. Backpacking is a specific type of travel that people participate in. You could also argue that the word 'holiday' suggests something quite relaxing, whereas 'backpacking' suggests the type of travel that requires more effort, planning and room for error. As well as this, teenagers and young people are not strictly in the same category. A better term for 'teenagers' would be adolescents. Young people is a little too broad.

Word order

You can do this as well as applying synonyms. It is a low stakes change to make, but exemplifies further control and knowledge of language.

Changing the word order may mean to move words around, but it could also involve adding or taking away words. So be careful that in doing so, your sentence still makes sense and you haven't compromised clarity.

You want to have error-free sentences so if you are not sure how to toy with the order, leave it and apply another method.

First example

Original: International tourism has brought enormous benefit to many places. At the same time, there is concern about its impact on local inhabitants and the environment.

Edited: There is a concern that international tourism, despite its significant advantages, has created consequences for local communities and the local environment.

Second example

Original: Even though doctors all over the world agree that fast food is bad for people's health, more and more people are eating it.

Edited: People are increasingly consuming fast food, in spite of being aware of its damage to one's health and the supporting negative opinion from doctors all over the world.

Third example

Original: Some people say that now we can see films on our phones or tablets there is no need to go to the cinema. Others say that to be fully enjoyed, films need to be seen in a cinema.

Edited: Some people believe that to fully appreciate a film, it needs to be viewed in the cinema. Others argue that cinemas are now reductive because of how easily we can view them on our phones.

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Changing the form of the word

The good thing is that are many different ways in which you can change the form of the word. You could do this by changing the noun, verb, adverb and adjectives. Keep in mind that by doing this, you may need to also change some of the grammar in the sentence, so that surrounding words also make sense.

First example

Original: Some people believe that once a person becomes a criminal, he will always be a criminal. Do you agree with this statement? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Edited: Some people hold the view that once a person has committed a crime, they will always be seen as a criminal.

Second example

Original: Countries should restrict foreign companies from opening offices and factories in order to protect local businesses. Do you agree or disagree?

Edited: Countries could restrict overseas companies in opening offices and factories, to provide protection for domestic businesses.

Third example

Original: Some people think that children should be homeschooled when they are very young while others think it is better for them to attend a kindergarten. Which do you think is better? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Edited: Some people believe in homeschooling for young children, whilst others think attending kindergarten is more beneficial.

To summarise

  • It is important to apply these methods in your practice. Don't wait until the day to apply them because you remember them, but incorporate them as part of your regular practice.
  • You are not limited to one of these methods, you can apply as many as you want- as long as your sentence is clear and error free!
  • Check your practices with a tutor, so you can have feedback that is relevant to you and you only.