Lecture 21


English Comprehension and

Composition – Lecture 21


Précis Writing



Writing a Précis

A précis is a short summary.

“It is a brief, original summary of the important ideas given in a long selection. Its aim is to give the general effect created by the original selection."


1) Read the given passage carefully at least three times in order to be able to grasp what the writer has said.

2) Underline the important points to be included in your précis. A point is important if it is intimately connected with the main subject.

3) Use your own language in the précis. While words and phrases from the original may be used in the précis. Whole sentences should never be lifted out of the original to be included in it.

4) The précis should be roughly one-third of the original passage. Always prepare a rough draft first and count the words. If you find that it is too long, shorten it by removing what seems unessential and by condensing, phraseology. If it turns out to be too short, read the original to see what more can be added to the précis.

5) Examples, illustrations, and comparisons should be left out of the précis. Figures of speech should be removed and the ideas are expressed in clear, direct language.

6) Your own comments on the ideas of the précis are absolutely forbidden.

7) See that your précis is a readable piece of

English and that its ideas can be understood even by a person who has not gone through original. This is very important.

8) Your précis should be connected whole. As such it should not be divided into paragraphs.

9) Don't use the direct form of speech in précis.

10) Think of a suitable title for the précis if it is required. The title should not be a complete sentence.

11) Indicate the number of words in your précis at the end.


His courage in battle might without exaggeration be called “lion-like”.

He was very brave in battle. (Précis)

There came to his recollection.

He remembered. (Précis)

The account the witness gave of the incident moved everyone that heard it to laughter.

The witness’s story was absurd. (Précis)

Make a précis of the following passage.

One great defect with our civilization is that it does not know what to do with its knowledge. Science, as we have seen, has given us great powers , yet we use them like small children.

For example, we do not know how to manage our machines.

Machines were made to be man’s servant; yet he has grown to be so dependent on them that they are in a fair way to become his masters. Already most men spend most of their lives looking after and waiting upon machines. And the machines are very stern masters. They must be fed with coal and given petrol to drink, and oil to wash with, and must be kept at the right temperature. And if they do not get their meals when they expect them, they grow sulky and refuse to work. Do we have to do what they want to keep them in good temper. Already we find it difficult to work or play without machines and a time may come when they will rule over us altogether.


We do not know what to do with our knowledge. Science has given us superhuman powers, which we do not use properly. For example, we are unable to manage out machines. Machines should be taken care of promptly and waited upon attentively; otherwise they stop working. We already find it difficult to do without machines. In the course of time, they may rule over us altogether.


Précis Writing




The material has been adapted from the following links: http://media.wiley.com/product_ancillary/99/04704353/



http://currentaffairsbankpo.blogspot.com/2010/04/exam ple-of-precis-writing.html

http://www.shareyouressays.com/1256/how-to-reallywrite-a-phenomenal-precis http://www.publishyourarticles.net/knowledgehub/articles/precis-writing-exercises-on-selfreliance.html