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Supporting Evidence

Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

Supporting evidence proves a claim to be true. Supporting evidence can be a summary, paraphrased or a direct quote. Supporting evidence is a crucial part in body paragraphs and it is important to be discerning in the evidence chosen.

Let's talk about supporting evidence, so this is a really crucial part of your body progress. It's really where you prove your point to be true, it's that evidence that supports it. So one thing to remember is that, the only job of your evidence is to prove the claim to be true, so you've got to be really discerning when it comes to selecting the evidence that you choose. And you can choose three different types of evidence, the first is a summary and it's simply a shorten version of a quote that's written in your own words. You can also choose a paraphrase, which is a retelling of a quote in your own words but it's about the same length as the original or you can actually use the direct quote which is word for word from another text.
And here is a kind of my rule of thumb, a summary is good maybe in a research paper where you are trying to take a long description or a long explanation and shorten it up and fit it into your writing in an accessible way, or maybe in a piece of literature, you've got a really long description of something and you can use maybe ellipses and different kind of modes to really shorten it up and put it in your own words. So then you have a paraphrase and I would use paraphrases when what you're taking and what you're trying to quote has a lot of technical language in it. So things that maybe the average person wouldn't understand and that you could easily put in your own words. And then finally I think a direct quotation works really well when it's really well said. Now that being said if you are quoting from literature, you've got different rules of thumbs. When you are quoting from literature, if you got the book in front of you, you always want to go direct quote. If you have the ability to pull one, pull one in. However, I know we do essay tests and different things like that, so that might be an opportunity for summary or paraphrase. If you can remember basically what a character said, go ahead and paraphrase it if you are trying to recreate a quote, just don't put quotation marks around it alright.
And then a summary is good if you are retelling a series of events from literature. So let's take a look at some examples of all of those. If I've got the topic sentence; in the novel 'Lord of the Flies', William Golding uses Jack's character to highlight the flaws in dictatorial government. Here's an example of a summary "That one time when Jack was sitting on his throne like a king, bossing everyone around which led to disaster." Now I don't know if your summary really works here because it's not a series of event, and especially that phrase "that one time," really makes it seem vague, like you're not really sure what happened. It doesn't make you sound like an authority on the book.
Let's take a look at what it would look like in paraphrase form instead, "Jack who was sitting on his throne, painted, being served by others, ignores the question and commands his group to perform the hunting dance that eventually leads to tragedy." Now that sounds like somebody who's actually read the book. So this would be a great retelling if you didn't have the book in front of you. Now if you have the book in front of you go with the original quote "Jack, [painted], rose from the log that was his throne and sauntered to the edge of the our dance!...Kill the beast, cut her throat, bash her in!" And that is really effective because you've got the actual words that he's saying there. So you can see these three different types and hopefully this will help you discern which one is the best to use in your situation.