Reading for Thinking - Online Practice
Introductory Phrases and Paraphrasing

Copyright 2012 © Laraine Flemming.
Copyright is granted exclusively to instructors and students using textbooks written by Laraine Flemming. General distribution and redistribution are strictly prohibited.

Directions: For each paragraph, click on the statement that describes what the underlined phrase in each passage does. Then select the best paraphrase of the entire excerpt.

1. Original: "The plain fact of the matter is that any group will remain potentially conscienceless and evil until such a time as each and every individual holds himself or herself directly responsible for the behavior of the whole group—the organism—of which he or she is part." The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna [Forna was born in Sierre Leone, an African country that was torn by a brutal civil war which took hundreds of thousands of lives, including her father's. Her memoir The Devil that Danced on the Water offers an insight into why she views groups with so much mistrust.]
Which statement best describes the underlined phrase?
a. It suggests the author is still struggling to come to a conclusion.

b. It suggests the author wants to convince readers that what she says is obviously true and beyond question.
c. It suggests the author is going to cite many different facts to prove her point.

Which statement most accurately paraphrases the original?
a. Human beings do not act on their conscience. They act on the basis of their own self-interest, and that is what leads them into actions that they are ashamed of in the end.

b. Every group has the potential to do evil if its members stop listening to their conscience. To avoid fulfilling a group's natural potential for evil, each individual needs to take responsibility for the group's behavior.
c. When people get in a group, they seem to take leave of their senses and do things that they ordinarily would never do if they were alone. This has been proven time and time again throughout history—that groups are a source of evil.

2. Original: Regardless of the debate over the origins of climate change, there's no disputing that the Earth has warmed considerably in recent years. And with this warming trend, the world's polar ice is melting rapidly, displacing the creatures that have long made these regions their habitat. (Adapted from Yahoo News 2/2/2011)
Which statement best describes the underlined phrase?
a. It suggests the author wants to discuss the debate over the origins of climate change.

b. It suggests the author is agreeing that a debate exists before making a different point about climate change.
c. It suggests that the author is going to challenge the belief that climate change is a serious problem.

Which statement most accurately paraphrases the original?
a. Polar ice is melting at a record rate. Yet many people still insist that climate change is not the cause. What will it take to convince them, the disappearance of polar ice and with it all Arctic creatures?

b. Temperatures have been warming over the last century, but the last few decades have seen the biggest increases. The result has been melting polar ice, which eventually will result in the loss of countless wonderful creatures such as polar bears.
c. Although there is disagreement over what's causing the increases in Earth's temperatures, no one's arguing that the Earth isn't getting warmer. The worry is that increased temperatures will melt polar ice, leaving many creatures with no home and unable to survive.

3. Original: In our near-sighted optimism, we like to think that information sets us free, and that access to the Internet can lead those oppressed by dictators into the light of democracy. But the Internet is not a one-way street, and dictatorial regimes are technologically quite savvy. They can take advantage of the Internet, too, using it not just to help track down dissidents, but also to dispense propaganda. (Adapted from Torie Bosch, "Tangled Web"
Which statement best describes the underlined phrase?
a. The author is going to tell readers that something they believe to be true is not.

b. The author is going to define optimism.
c. The author is going to confirm that events long-expected are about to occur.

Which statement most accurately paraphrases the original?
a. The Internet has opened up the world to political change in a way that no one could have expected even a decade ago. People living under oppressive regimes now have a way to join together to fight against those who would deny them their democratic freedom.

b. It's probably a mistake to assume that the Internet can only aid the cause of freedom. It can also help governments that repress democracy. Dictators can use it not just to track and suppress rebellion but also to control how people view the world.
c. Governments that oppose democracy are making more use of the Internet than are those who support democratic change. Many people don't realize that. They assume that the Internet serves only the cause of democratic freedom. Unfortunately, it can also be used to suppress individual freedom.

4. Original: Although the expression "bird-brained" suggests birds are not the brightest of god's creatures, few doubt the intelligence of crows, whose cleverness has been much praised. Yet even among this generally brainy bunch, the crows of New Caledonia, a small island in the Pacific, are stand-outs. Famous for their tool-making skills, New Caledonia crows don't just create tools. They also adapt them to specific purposes. In a YouTube video that went viral, a New Caledonian crow by the name of Betty is shown busily working away at a piece of wire until she manages to twist it into a hook and use the hook to lift an object out of a tall glass jar.
Which statement best describes the underlined phrase?
a. It suggests the author is going to give some examples of how birds are pretty but not very smart.

b. It suggests the author is about to offer examples of birds' aggression.
c. It suggests the author is going to say that birds are brighter than people might think.

Which statement most accurately paraphrases the original?
a. Crows are like chimpanzees. They make and adapt tools to suit their needs. Just how clever they are is apparent in an online video that was wildly popular on the Internet. The video showed a crow named Betty trying to get an object out of a glass jar. She succeeds brilliantly after spending a few minutes turning a piece of wire into the hook she needs to get deep into the jar.

b. People may think that birds are dumb, but no one who has watched crows use tools would call them anything but smart. Those inclined to underestimate the intelligence of crows need to watch the YouTube video of Betty, a crow who works at a piece of wire until she turns it into the tool she needs to pull an object from a glass jar.
c. Even people who think birds are dumb know that crows are smart. New Caledonian crows, though, are the breakout geniuses among a generally smart group. They make tools from scratch and when they need to, adapt them to a specific purpose. This ability is well-illustrated in a popular You Tube video that shows Betty the crow bending a wire to lift out an object from a glass jar.

5. Original: On the whole, desert locusts usually lead shy, solitary lives. But every now and again, they come together and form huge swarms. ūThe swarms can contain a billion or more individual locusts, all of them capable of consuming huge amounts of vegetation and destroying every living thing in their path. For centuries no one knew what caused this transformation. Now scientists think they have discovered the cause. When serotonin builds up in the bodies of the insects, the swarming instinct takes over and the once shy locust is driven to become part of a group.
Which statement best describes the underlined phrase?
a. It suggests the author is starting off with a general statement that will probably be revised.

b. It suggests that the author will immediately follow the phrase with a specific example of unusual locust behavior.
c. It introduces an expert's opinion about locust behavior.

Which statement most accurately paraphrases the original?
a. Locusts generally like to go it alone, and when they do stick to themselves, they are relatively harmless. It's when they team up with others of their own kind that they become a major league force of destruction. For centuries, swarms of locusts have destroyed every stick of vegetation in their path, leaving in their wake nothing but destruction and starvation.

b. Locusts are relatively harmless if they stay by themselves. It's when they gather together and form a group that they are one of the most destructive pests on earth. Scientists have discovered that locusts are affected by the amount of serotonin in their bodies, and it's the serotonin that causes a reaction.
c. Most of the time, locusts don't team up. They stay on their own. But periodically locusts decide to band together. That's when they become destructive and destroy all the vegetation in their path. Scientists have recently discovered that it's the build up of serotonin in their bodies that turns loner locusts into swarms that ravage crops and plants.

Last change made to this page: 02/24/11

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