Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever heard somebody reference something that somebody else said in conversation?

Do you feel like people may quote others in English quite a bit?

Today we’re talking about paraphrasing, and it’s actually a very common and rather important aspect of conversation.

You will come to understand how it works, when it may be coming up in conversation, and how you can use this in a really effective way in your own conversations.

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Being In Tune To Paraphrasing

When you are listening to a conversation, do you ever hear people quote or paraphrase things that were said in another conversation?

For example, let’s say that Lindsay wanted to tell Michelle about a conversation she had with Aubrey.

There are certain ways you would signal that you are about to quote or paraphrase what Aubrey said in that previous conversation.

This situation comes up a lot and it’s quite common, and it happens to be quite useful for listening and speaking.

This is especially useful for group conversations with multiple speakers who are speaking fast.

That may be one of the bigger challenges here, because when people are speaking fast it can be hard to keep up with.

You can do it, and you can use this type of thing in your conversations if you know how to.

You need to follow along and there are certain common words used to signal that you are about to quote or paraphrase.

It’s essential to focus on those and to do your best to keep up with the pace of the conversation as well.

This takes practice, but once you do it a couple of times you will find that you get the hang of it.

A Working Example

This clip was from Conversations and Coffee fortune telling, and in it Aubrey is sharing a story about her friend.

As you are taking a look at this, you want to ask yourself a few questions to get started and get into the right frame of mind.

-What words does Aubrey use to signal that she is paraphrasing or quoting someone?

-Why does she do this?

-Why is this helpful to the listener/speaker?

Aubrey: “This friend, the same friend I was talking about at this metaphysical store, they’re like, “Can I do a tarot card reading for you?” and she was like, “Sure.” and she actually wrote down the cards because I knew I wouldn’t remember. So, they, like, pulled one card and it was wellspring was the name of the card and this was about the inner child and this is where they first were like, and she said, “I feel like it was when you were six, you need to have some healing and then you’ll feel a sense of peace.” and then they pulled a card called the ancestry card, which is about where your family is from, and then they would, like, read something based on that, they’re like, “Is your family involved in the Celtic culture?” and she said she actually has a Celtic knot on her foot, which of course this tarot card reader would not have known about, so, now she’s kind of started looking into these ancestral connections and stuff.”

Jessica: “Wow.”

Lindsay: “How cool, cool.”

Aubrey: “And then the last card was self-reflection, which was just that she was saying, “You need to do a lot of research, a lot of self-reflection to become your higher self and then you will be at peace.” So, she loved the tarot card reading, it brought her a lot of peace.”

You may even want to review through that again just so that you have a good understanding of how this conversation went.

You want to pay particularly close attention to the paraphrasing or the signals used when she was about to talk about something that somebody else said.

Looking For The Signals

So how can you be sure when somebody is signaling that they are about to paraphrase?

Are there certain things that you can look for which may help you to know that this aspect of conversation is coming?

There are certain words or phrases that you may hear which indicate that somebody is about to summarize something that somebody else said.

These are the words to keep in mind when paraphrasing is about to happen.

-“They’re like”

-“She was like”

-“She said”

-“They’re like”

-“She said- “ -orange one- a bit different-not actually putting something into a quote

-“She was saying”

These are all very common, and so they are well known and signal when something is about to be taken from another conversation.

You just want to be aware of how these are used as they can be overdone or take away from the conversation as a whole.

For example, “Was like” shouldn’t be repeated too frequently, because even though is it natural and native it can also take something away from conversation as well.

Also, grammar can change sometimes, so be sure to focus more on the chunks.

There are other questions to keep in mind which may really help you here.

  • Why does she do this? This helps you to consider if there’s a reason to paraphrase. This may help you to not only focus on what is happening, but also why it is happening. This can ensure that you tune into the important details that really matter here.
  • Why is this helpful to the listener/speaker? This may help you to focus on the reasons behind paraphrasing. Often it adds to the story at hand, or it may give an important point of reference. Understanding what this can add can be really helpful from your point of view as the listener.

Practicing This In Your Conversations

When you really look at this idea in conversation, you may ask yourself if it really matters if it’s a paraphrase or a quote.

It’s not to say that one is better than another, but sometimes the paraphrasing can work quite well in conversation.

Not only that, but it works effectively in a more casual conversation as well so it may be used more frequently.

Ask yourself some of the questions above so that you can stay on top of a situation that uses paraphrasing as a great starting point.

Then you want to try to practice this on your own, for it matters greatly to your ability to make it work in your conversations.

What steps can you take to practice this sort of thing?

There are a couple of things you can keep in mind and use to help you master this in the best way possible in your conversations.

  • Listen to many conversations: Use conversations that take place on TV, podcasts, and specific resources like Conversations and Coffee. Be sure to listen for these signals to show you that they are talking about what someone ELSE said or perhaps did.
  • Use this with speaking as well: We will do a follow up on this with many examples on the speaking end. But the idea here is to practice using this in your conversations. Even if you do a role play or practice this in a mock conversation on your own at home, that can work well.

You want to see how this will feel in conversation, and that comes with some great practice.

You will get used to how this works and make it a part of your conversations, but know what to look for and how to use it.

Paraphrasing can work really well and help you to get your point across, so this can all help you to make it a natural part of conversation.


In conversations people often quote or paraphrase others because it’s important to the story.

We need strategies to speak about this and to listen for it, and something like Conversations and Coffee works really well.

You will come to get used to hearing it and then using it, though it may take a bit of practice at first.

This is a great way to make reference to something that somebody said, and it can work well in your conversations.

Try it and listen for it, and you will get accustomed to making this a natural part of your conversations where it fits.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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