Some people plagiarize because they feel as though they are not smart enough to say what others say. But, you were smart enough to recognize that someone else was able to say exactly what you wanted to say anyway. Soooo, you must be smarter than you think, right? So why not give credit to the person who said it and simply view it as a partnership of sorts when you properly cite your material. It beats getting kicked out of school…
Okay, here’s the deal: Plagiarism is defined by www.dictionary.com as this–“an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author”.
In otherwords, when you plagiarize you say what someone else said and give them absolutely no credit. When you write an essay and use a quote or phrase that is not yours, you must give credit where credit is due.
A local businessman heard a speech that I gave last year. He told me that what I had said inspired him, and that he wanted to base his company’s vision off of a statement that I made during the speech. I quickly reminded him that those great words were not mine, but those of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, which I clearly stated during my speech. I even managed to supply him a copy of the original speech by Dr. King.
If you didn’t make it up, then don’t fake it up. Do not take credit, give the credit where it is due. If you want to use something that someone else said but you don’t know how to give credit where credit is due, just (1) ask your instructor to give you a WRITTEN example (2) check out www.MLA.org, Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab or www.plagiarism.org and (3) your local library (which is an EXCELLENT choice–some of them even have programs that will proof read your paper for you).