23 junio, 2024

Mechanical paraphrasing: what it is, characteristics and examples

what is the mechanical paraphrase?

The mechanical paraphrase It is a technique that consists of changing the ideas or expressions of a text for other words that serve as synonyms or that are similar. The organization of a text must be maintained all the time, since the idea is to create something new, but that the base lasts. That is, the syntax remains almost the same always.

The objective of paraphrasing something is to articulate other people’s ideas, but with words or expressions that are your own. It is not the only type of paraphrase that exists and should not be confused with constructive paraphrasing, which differs from mechanical in that it can be done in two different ways.

One option is one in which the structure and vocabulary used are respected. The other way to paraphrase constructively is to modify the syntactic structure and use synonyms to replace some expressions.

The word paraphrase comes from Latin and is the union between for and praxis (paraphrase). For means «that is next to», or «next», and praxis means «expression». It translates as “additional form of expression”.

Characteristics of mechanical paraphrasing

The well-used mechanical paraphrase can be easily identified, since it meets some characteristics. For example, before performing it, a text or statement must be read or listened to very accurately in order to know and understand its content. It is also important to do an analysis and understand the vocabulary that is used.

When talking about mechanical paraphrasing in a text, it is necessary to analyze the syntactic structure used in the elaboration of the sentences.

A good use of mechanical paraphrase occurs when it is possible to identify the central idea and it is possible to repeat it without alterations. Do not include ratings or criticisms that are your own and have not been stated by the author or sender of the message.

Mechanical paraphrase is a tool highly appreciated by the sender, especially in oral communication, which is the most direct. In it, the paraphrase allows the sender to feel valued because his ideas are really heard. As a consequence, there are more reasons for you to continue with the communication and for it to fulfill its objective.

There are some phrases that make it clear when you are paraphrasing. For example: «what you are trying to say with that is that…», «if I understood you correctly, what do you mean that…», «from what you tell me, I understand that…», among others.

Mechanical paraphrasing is usually the most used because it uses a form that is easier to imitate something, so it is considered that it will be more easily understood.


Paraphrasing is a very important tool in the communication process because, used well, it allows the interaction to fulfill its objective.

This practice allows both the sender of the message and the receiver to confirm that the message has indeed been perceived in the way it was intended from the beginning.

A good paraphrase, whether mechanical or constructive, helps reduce the danger that the receiver does not comply with a good communicative process. This happens mostly when you choose what you are interested in listening to and filter the information to draw your own conclusions.

As a tool, paraphrasing allows empathy to be practiced, since the recipient must not lose the original message and this forces them to pay special attention to knowing and understanding the thoughts and feelings of the sender of the message. Finally, it will allow avoiding value judgments or assumptions about the ideas of the other.

What can mechanical paraphrasing be used for?

One reason that paraphrasing, whether mechanical or constructive, is so important is that it serves to rephrase other people’s ideas and then express them as your own. It is a widely used tool to avoid plagiarism when sources or information created by others are used.

In the end, the goal is to give the same information, but varying the words. It is considered a more effective tool than direct citations in a text, because it also helps to solve the problem of having to quote excessively in a publication.

When mechanical paraphrasing is used in some work or for the preparation of documents, it allows the writing to always have a similar style. In the end, this is something positive for those who use mechanical paraphrasing, since it gives them more options to understand what is being researched, read or heard.

what to avoid

Care must be taken with the use of mechanical paraphrasing if you want to carry out a correct communication process. Among other things, we must remember that it is important not to change the syntactic structure.

Even if you use your own words to state someone else’s ideas, it is important to remember who first enunciated that idea; otherwise it would be committing plagiarism. To avoid this, it is necessary to cite the author who expounds an idea before reconstructing a text or statement.

Examples of mechanical paraphrases

Example 1

Original text: «Eighty percent of success consists of being there.» (Woody Allen).

Text with mechanical paraphrase: For Woody Allen, the most important thing about success is to be in the right place.

Example 2

Original text: “Our reward is found in the effort and not in the result. A total effort is a victory.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

Text with mechanical paraphrase: According to Mahatma Gandhi, the prize is in the will to do something and not in its consequence. Doing everything possible is a triumph.

Example 3

Original text: «Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.» (Confucius).

Text with mechanical paraphrase: In one of his reflections, Confucius said that if you choose a task that appeals to you, it will not be necessary to work at any stage of your life.

Example 4

Original text: “Setting an example is not the main way to influence others; it’s the only way». (Albert Einstein).

Text with mechanical paraphrase: Albert Einstein assured that being a role model is not only the most relevant way to act on other people; There is no other way.

Example 5

Original text: “The greatest declaration of love is the one that is not made; The man that feels a lot, speaks little». (Plato)

Text with paraphrase: For Plato, the greatest manifestation of affection is the one that is not carried out; people who experience a lot of feelings are short on words.


Delgado Linares, I. (2014). Social skills. Madrid: Auditorium.
Paraphrase: Types, Features and Examples. Recovered from lifepersona.com
Paraphrasing. Retrieved from uts.edu.au
Sánchez, A. Reading and writing workshop I, Volumen1. Mexico: Cengage Learning Publishers SA
Taylor, D. How to Paraphrase: Definition & Examples. Retrieved from study.com

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