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IELTS Grammar Guide: Synonyms and Paraphrases

Paraphrases and Synonyms in Reading

Paraphrasing is a very important skill for IELTS exam. Because in the test, almost in all the sections you will face paraphrases. For example, in the reading section, it is very unlikely that you will get the same word both in the question sentence and in the reading passage.


Paraphrases and Synonyms in Listening

In the listening section, you will get around 45 seconds before every audio clip begins. During this time, you already have the question texts with you, and observing the question texts you are trying to predict what you are about to listen. But unfortunately, you are going to listen only a few words that are used in the question paper. Because you will listen mostly paraphrases or synonyms.

Paraphrases and Synonyms in Speaking

If you talk about speaking section, you know you will need to resort to some strategies to impress the examiner. If you don't know synonyms or how to paraphrase, you are in trouble. Because, if you use the same word too frequently, it will sound very irritating to the examiner.


Paraphrases and Synonyms in Writing

Paraphrase has a special importance in writing section, specially in the very first paragraph of your essay. Because in this paragraph, you must write a sentence that will reiterate the question sentence, and this reiteration is simply a paraphrase of the question statement.


This is how you will need paraphrases and synonyms in all areas of IELTS exam. Now let's see how you can develop paraphrasing skill.   

How to paraphrase

There are three most effective strategies that you can use to make paraphrases:

  1. Using synonyms (words bearing the same meaning)

  2. Changing the form of words

  3. Changing grammatical structure

You should practice all of these approaches for your best preparation.

1. Using synonyms

Synonyms are the different words that have the same meaning. For example, the synonyms of examination is assessment, test etc. This is a very simple strategy. Just replacing with the words that have the same meaning to make a new sentence.


Make sure you use same words as synonyms, not similar words. There is a big difference between the word 'same' and the word 'similar'. Similar means 'close to', whereas 'same' means 'exact'. A 'close to' meaning word will not be a synonym, it has to be an 'exact' meaning word. If you cannot paraphrase with an exact meaning word. the message of the original statement might change. Therefore, use synonyms only when you are 100% sure about the meaning. 


Paraphrase by Synonyms:

Original sentence: Why do you need to wait for 2 hours for the test?

Paraphrased sentence: Why do you need to wait for a couple of hours for the assessment?

2. Changing the form of words

You know there are so many forms of words like verbs, nouns, adjectives etc. You can make paraphrases by changing these forms as well. But you have to make sure you are not going beyond of grammatical range and accuracy. Whatever the word form you use for paraphrasing, make sure your new sentence is grammatically valid.

For example,

Original sentence: Popularity of sports varies in different regions of the world. 

Paraphrased sentence: Popularity of sports is varied in different regions of the world. 

3. Changing grammatical structures

This is the vast area of forming paraphrase. If you are confident in grammar, you will love to paraphrase using this strategy. Because there are always so many grammatical options that you can use to construct a beautiful new sentence without changing the meaning of the original sentence. For example,

Reordering clause:

Original sentence:As there is a huge revolution in recent communication technology, people are worried about losing their ethnic identity.

Paraphrased sentence: People are afraid of losing their ethnic identity as there is a revolutionary development is communication technology.

Active to passive voice

Original sentence: An international construction giant funded this massive project.

Paraphrased sentence: This massive project was funded by an international construction giant.

Make sure you navigate through our detailed discussion on,

essential grammar and vocabulary for IELTS.

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