What is the difference between paraphrasing and quoting?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The difference between paraphrasing and quoting is that when quoting you use the author’s exact words, and when paraphrasing you use the author’s ideas but put them in your own words.

In writing, we often have to use other people’s ideas.  There is nothing wrong with this.  We are often researching, or writing about what other people think.  Obviously in order to write about what people think, you need to use their ideas.  It is important, however, when you use another person’s ideas that you give that person credit for the ideas.

Giving credit where credit is due is a complicated business.  How do you know when it is better to use an author’s words, or when to paraphrase the author’s ideas?  You do not want to overuse quotation.  First of all, quotations should be short.  A quotation should not be longer than twenty or thirty words in an essay in most cases, because your goal in an essay is to use the quotation only as evidence.  Let’s say you are writing about To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, and you want to quote Atticus’s views on courage.

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway …(Ch. 11)

This is a direct quotation.  In this case, if we were to use this quotation, we would be using the author’s words directly.  For example, I might write this:

Atticus tells the children that he wants them to see that real courage is “when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway” (11).

You can see that I used some of the words from the quotation, and introduced.

It is very important that when you paraphrase you still credit the author.  You are still using the author’s words, even if it is not a word for word quotation.  Let’s say that instead of the above, I had written this in my essay:

Atticus tells his children that he wants them to understand that real courage is not having a gun in your hand.  Real courage is when you know you’re beaten before you even begin, but you begin anyway (11).

In this case, I still included the citation.  (You should be citing with page numbers, not chapter numbers, but every book is different so for simplicity’s sake I am using chapter numbers.)  It is extremely important to give an author credit in your essay, which is known as in-text citation, and at the end of the paper in a Works Cited page, in order to protect yourself from plagiarism and to be an honest writer.  After all, you want your words to be your own.  You want to be your own writer, and you want your words to stand out.

When quoting, you want to choose those few words that will best support your argument and help your reader make sense of what you are trying to say.  When paraphrasing, you want to use your own words, but the author's meaning.

Here is a video further elaborating on the differences between quoting and paraphrasing:

rachellopez | Student

Paraphrasing is just putting what someone else says in your own words. When you do this you, take their general idea and you say it in a way that you can understand. My teaches have always said paraphrasing is different than summarizing because when you are summarizing you don't necessarily have to understand what it means. However, with paraphrasing you put it in a way that you and your peers can fully understand while still getting the author's original message across.

Quoting, on the other hand, is saying exactly what the author has said. You use their exact words and quotation marks around it, showing that it is their idea. The only thing is, you have to be able to explain and analyze the quotes you put in your writing to make an effective claim/argument.

misscrump | Student

Paraphrasing is when you take a passage and put it in your own words. This is usually shorter than the original passage and it basically takes the main idea and breaking it down by how you would explain it. 

Quoting is when its identical to the original and the author is attributed. 

arrellbelle | Student

Paraphrasing is simply your own version or rewording of an original statement/sentence. In other words, it is your own ideas and thought process as to how you understand what you've heard/read.

Whereas, quoting is re-stating exactly what the author has written down. So when you write down a quote someone has said, you incorporate quotation marks around the quote so that you give the author credit.

amysor | Student

Paraphrasing is using an author's idea. It is putting their idea in your words, but you still have to give credit to the author. While quoting is using exact words from the author. 

For example"


The Bill of Rights helped give people their "universal human rights that every person is entitled to", such as the freedom of speech.


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

-Constitution, Amendment I

Paraphrasing is taking the main idea, without actually using the same exact words. Although, even paraphrasing, its still important to adknowledge the author and give credit. 

Hope I helped answer you question!

PrunTuns | Student

As teachers always seem to say, paraphrasing is "putting something into your own words." The way I would paraphrase is to read an excerpt and then to immediately record, without referencing the text, what I feel the text essentially says. In essence, I am trying to be as concise as possible in translating what the excerpt conveys, including the key words and ideas. If you are writing an essay, paraphrasing is often less-preferred than direct quoting because the former is seen as less reliable support for your analyses. 

On the other hand, to quote is to repeat, word-for-word or otherwise exactly as is printed in the original work, a certain part of the text. Be careful because failing to quote properly (or even paraphrase) is sometimes counted as plagiarism, determined at your instructor's discretion. Quotes, or snippets, are often more effective in supporting your claims in an essay, but as litteacher8 points out, "quotations should be short." They should only be used as support for your analyses, not as the analyses themselves. 

taangerine | Student

Paraphrasing is when you take a excerpt and rephrase it for your understanding or for the audience/reader's understanding. 

On the other hand, quoting is directly stating what an individual has said or written. 

CaitlynnReeves | Student

Quoting is stating, verbatim what an individual said. Proper grammar for a quote includes quotation marks "" and commas where necessary. 

Paraphrasing is retelling generally what was said. There is no need to use quotations when paraphrasing. 

Quote: Dad said, "I am going to the grocery store." 

Paraphrase: Dad said he was going to the store.