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What is precis writing?
Definition: A precis is clear and compact as well as a logical summary of a passage.
Writing a Precis (pronounced-pray-see) means to re-write in our own words a passage we have read it is much shorter than the original and covers the main points of the given passage, article or essay. A precis should not be longer than one-third of the original passage.
Essentials of a Good Precis
To write a good precis, one should have a clear understanding of the passage. It should be complete in the sense that it should contain all essential thoughts, ideas or facts, though in a condensed form. It should not contain opinions or observations that have not been expressed by the writer in the original passage.
Precis writing examples with solution (dialogue writing)
A precis is always written in indirect speech, though the original passage may be in direct speech. A precis is always written in the Third Person and the Past Tense.
Steps for effectively reading a passage
- Read and re-read each sentence of the passage/article to understand what the author is trying to say.
- Underline the most idea or the purpose of the passage.
- Identify the main idea or the purpose of the passage.
- Observe the approach and tone used by the passage.
- Observe the approach and tone used by the author.
- Make a note of the organisational pattern of the passage or article, i.e., which point comes first, second and so on.
- Now, go over the main points again before you start writing your precis.
Read the following example:
Each and every person is required to give a full and complete account of his income from all sources including salary, wages, rents, properties, interests or any other earning whatsoever. (30 words)
Now take note of the condensed form:
Every person must account for his income from all sources.
The above examples show how you can omit unnecessary details and express the main idea only of a given passage in its precis.
Points to remember
While writing a precis, keep the following points in mind:
- A precis should not be longer than one-third of the original passage. A few words less or more than one-third of the original passage are acceptable.
- Follow the same organisational pattern as that of the original article.
- Use the author’s voice as if you were telling the story. Do not write, “This author says …” or “This paragraph means…”
- Your precis should not include anything which the author has not mentioned in the original piece.
- Do not make your own conclusion nor express your opinion.
- Do not question the author’s arguments. Remember, you are only required to present the original passage in a short and concise manner.
- Try to avoid using the same words as used in the original piece.
Keep aside the original piece of writing, only then begin writing. This will enable you to write in your own words.
- Avoid using the same words as given in the original passage or article.
- Join short sentences with words like although, after, before, when, since, etc.
- Do not include anything which the author has not mentioned in the original writing.
- Revise your writing until you are sure that you have given an accurate summary.
- If you find that your precis is more than one-third of the original, in length, continue your revision and edit it to reduce it to the required length.
Precis writing examples with solution
Buying things, today is so simple. Just enter a shop, say a bookstore, choose the desired book and pay for it. Long ago, before the invention of money, how did people trade?
The primitive way of exchange was the barter trade. In this form of transaction, people used goods to exchange for the things that they needed or had in mind. For instance, if person A wanted a book and had a goat to spare, he had to look for someone, say person B, who would have a spare book of person A’s choice and also be in need of a goat. However, having found such a person would not solve the problem. A big goat may not be worth only one book, hence person B might have to offer person A something else, say five chickens, However, he would run the risk of person A rejecting the offer as he might not need the chickens and so on. The above example, thus, clearly illustrates the inefficiency of barter trading.
Many years later, the cumbersome barter trade finally gave way to the monetary form of exchange when the idea of money was introduced. In the early days, almost anything could qualify as money: beads, shells and even fishing hooks. Then, in a region near Turkey, gold coins were used as money. In the beginning, each coin had a different denomination. It was only later, in about 700 BC, that Gyges, the king of Lydia, standardised the value of each coin and even printed his name on the coins. (precious writing examples with solution)
Monetary means of tractions, at first, beat the traditional barter trade. However, as time went by, carrying a ponderous of coins for shopping not only appeared troublesome but also attracted thieves. Hence, the Greek and Roman traders, who bought goods from people in faraway cities, invented cheques to solve the problem. Not only were paper cheques easy to carry around, but they also discouraged robbery as these cheques could only be used by the person whose name was specified on it. Following this idea, banks later issued notes in exchange for gold deposited with them. These banknotes could then be used as cash. Finally, governments of today adopted the same idea and began to print paper money, backed by gold for the country’s use.
Long ago, people bought things through barter or exchange of goods. However, the difficulty in having to look for the girl right person and also in assessing the worth of goods led people to switch to a monetary transaction. Gold coins with irregular denominations were first used for trade near Turkey. Later, King Gyges standardized the individual coin value. However, people soon found that carrying coins was troublesome and attracted thieves. Hence, merchants started to issue cheques bearing the names of the specific users to authorize the person who could encash it and thereby discourage robbery. Following the idea, today government print paper money backed by gold reserves for the country use.
Exercise for precis writing
Write the precis of the following passages:
A great part of Arab is discrete. There is nothing but sand and rocks. The send is so hot that you cannot walk over it with your bare feet in the daytime. Here and there in the desert are springs of water that run deep under the ground – so deep that the sun cannot dry them up. These springs are few and far between, but wherever there is one, trees grow tall and graceful, making a cool, green and shady place around the spring such a place is called an oasis.
The Arabs, who are not in the cities, live in the desert all year round. They live in tents that can be put up and taken down very easily and quickly so that they can move from one oasis to another, seeking grass and water for their sheep, goats, cameis and horses. These desert Arabs eat ripe sweet figs and dates that grow upon the palm trees; they dry them, too, and use them as food all the year-round.
These Arabs have the finest horses in the world. An Arab is very proud of his horses and loves them almost as he loves his children. However, the camel is much more useful to an Arab than his beautiful horse, for the former is much larger and stronger. One camel can carry more than two horses. The Arab loads the camel with goods and ideas it, too, for miles and miles across the desert, as if it were the ‘Ship of the Desert’, which it is often called.
A poor woman once came to the Buddha to ask him whether he could give any medicine to restore a dead child to life. The holy man told her that there was only one medicine to bring her son back to life. He bade her to bring him a handful of mustard seeds from a house where death had never entered. The grieving mother went from door to door seeking the mustard seeds, but at every door she met with sad replies. One said, “I lost my husband and told him the result of her quest. Then Buddha explained to her tenderly that she was not alone in this world to suffer such grief, sorrow and death are common to all.