The distinction between paraphrase, summary, and analysis is central to academic writing, especially for assignments that require critical responses to sources. Paraphrase, summary, and analysis are important for accomplishing different jobs in the essay:
The following examples illustrating the distinction between quotation, paraphrase, summary, and analysis are based on a well-known nursery rhyme:
“Jack and Jill ran up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.”
QUOTATION: In the classic nursery rhyme, “Jack and Jill,” the two characters are tasked with “fetch[ing] a pail of water.”
PARAPHRASE: In the nursery rhyme, “Jack and Jill,” the two title characters are racing to get water from the well when Jack trips without warning, hitting his head, and Jill falls down the hill after him.
SUMMARY: In the classic children’s nursery rhyme, “Jack and Jill,” two children are in the midst of completing a domestic chore, gathering water from the well, when an accident happens. First Jack slides down the hill and gets hurt, and then Jill also falls down the hill.
ANALYSIS: The classic children’s nursery rhyme, “Jack and Jill,” depicts two children in an act of domestic chores, which in the 1760s when the rhyme was published, was often what children were sent by their parents to do so as to contribute to the running of the home. Generally, the idea that the two run “up the hill” is nonsense because water typically comes from the bottom of hills (since water follows the downward flow of gravity). In modern usage, the rhyme provides a slapstick comedy for children to enjoy, but might also provide a lesson that children should take care when accomplishing their chores so that they do not injure themselves.