The ability to paraphrase in IELTS Speaking is an important skill to possess and I have noticed that it is often overlooked. It is important, not only because it is a band descriptor and the examiner will, therefore, be listening for examples of it, but also because, in some circumstances, it may provide a positive beginning for your answers. This is especially valuable in part two of the speaking test.

Paraphrase means expressing something either written or spoken using different words, and there are three key ways of doing this; by changing key nouns and verbs for synonyms, by changing grammatical forms and by changing tense structures.

• Using synonyms

Quite simply this means substituting words in the questions with others that have the same meaning. Here is a very simple example:

What do you like to do to relax?

At the end of a busy day, I like to unwind by ….

Here we have simply changed the verb relax to unwind which is a synonym having an almost exact meaning. Ideally, we should also replace the other verb in the question, like, as follows.

At the end of a busy day, I love to unwind by ….

• Changing grammatical forms

In the above example I have replaced two keywords with synonyms. Ideally, you should also demonstrate that you can paraphrase by changing grammatical forms. In the following, the key verb in the question is changed to a noun:

What do you like to do to relax?

At the end of a busy day, relaxation is really important to me and I like to …

You could also change the verb to an adjective:

At the end of a busy day, activities I find especially relaxing are:

• Changing tense structure

In the relaxation question, the examiner uses the present simple and it is natural to answer in the same tense. If appropriate, you could use others:

At the end of a busy day I used to like to relax by …, but I don’t have time for that now so I …

Next month yoga classes start at my college so I’m going to attend regularly which will hopefully help me to relax at the end of a busy day.

If I had the time, I would love to relax by …