David Recine

A Fun English Paraphrasing Game

English paraphrasing game

English paraphrasing can be hard, but it can also be fun. Here is an English paraphrasing game that makes re-wording your sources interesting and enjoyable.

The Rules of The English Paraphrasing Game

The game rules are a somewhat similar to Apples to Apples. There are competing players and there’s a judge. The winner of any round gets to be the judge of the next round.

In each round of the game, the players are given a sentence from an academic passage that they need to paraphrase. There are three different kinds of rounds: a “funny round,” a “dark round,” and a “serious round.”

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In the funny round, players try to paraphrase the passage in a way that makes it sound more absurd, using words that sound weird or have a humorous connotation. For instance, if the original passage says “Rainfall in the Amazon Basin was higher than average in that year,” the funny version might be “Sky-water-splatters kerplunking against the Amazon Washtub bounced more and more up, across 12 calendar pages.” …Or something. Everyone’s attempt at “funny” can differ. The main goal is to make something that sounds deliberately silly, while keeping as much of the original meaning as you can. Some meaning will probably change, as humor is an added level of meaning.

In the dark round, replace the original words with paraphrases that have a negative connotation. The goal is to make a normal, neutral writing tone sound angry, scary, or sad. Here, the original meaning will probably change a bit, but you should try not to directly contradict the original statement. I’ll give you an example of this, once again using the original sentence I used in the funny round.

“Rainfall in the Amazon Basin was higher than average in that year” can become the darker “Rainstorms attacking the Amazon Pit were much harder to escape that year.” (I couldn’t think of a negative word for “year.” Can you?)

Finally, in the serious round, the goal is to change the wording of the original statement as much as possible, while changing the meaning of the original statement as little as possible. A secondary goal should be to make the original statement shorter, shortening it as much as possible. This is because simplification is a key part of real academic paraphrasing.

In my example for this round, I know I’m going to do well. As an English teacher, real academic paraphrasing is a great strength of mine. I will turn “Rainfall in the Amazon Basin was higher than average in that year” into “The Amazon Basin’s annual precipitation exceeded the norm.” I went from 12 words to 8. And I didn’t change the name “Amazon Basin” because you can’t change that name without changing the meaning — it’s the name of a real place.

Nice examples, eh? If we were playing this game, I bet I’d win. Or would I? Play this game with your friends and study buddies. See if you can master it, giving even better responses than the ones I gave in this post.


  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he’s helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master’s Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he’s presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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