Paraphrasing with Signal Words

In order to paraphrase well, students need to be comfortable with a diversity of lexical and grammatical tools. While some students can easily draw on their own language skills, others struggle to access the skills they need to rephrase a selection in their own words.


Rephrasing sentences with signal words is one useful strategy for building up to full paraphrasing. Use these skills to break apart or combine sentences, and encourage students to reorder the clauses. This is also a good time to make sure that students understand how to paraphrase without changing the meaning of a sentence, as changing one signal words can often change the meaning of a sentence.

Help students change the signal words in these worksheets:

Cause Effect Words (pdf)

Contrast Words (pdf)

Before starting on these activities, make sure that students have practiced or can use a resource that includes a variety of signal words, such as transitions, subordinators, and nouns/verbs for cause-effect and contrast. Encourage them to use phrases that they have read and understand, but don’t use much in their own writing. For example, “since” and “because” have the same meaning and grammar, so if a student overuses “because,” he or she can substitute “since.” Likewise, the student can divide a long sentence into two sentence and connect the ideas with the prepositional phrase “because of this.”

Find more activities in Paraphrasing.

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