How Many Words Constitute Plagarism? I Want to Know What You Were Taught in High School.

So I just blogged a little about what constitutes “fair use” and how it’s all debatable.  On this note, I want to talk about plagarism.  Now I’m not really interested about talking about the law, per say, but rather what you were taught.

In high school, I had a strict English teacher who said anything up to and beyond “three distinct words” was plagarism.  Now that didn’t include proper nouns and such.  So “the United States of America” only counted as one distinct word.  But you couldn’t lift the words “(1)detrimental to the (2)country’s (3)future” from a source without a direct quote.  Now, granted, even if you took the gist of the material and reworded it, you still had to attribute it with an endnote, but we’re talking quotes, not endnotes.

When I got to college, it would be junior year before I heard any teacher address how many words you could get away with, but I was very surprised to hear my prof say “10 words.”  Whaaaat?  10 words?  Heaven!!!

So ignore the law for now.  Just let me know what you were taught back in the day.  How many words could you use in sequence before you had to quote?


Mrs. Walker, my high school English teacher
(who is still teaching today at my school).
I was quite the troublemaker and
would often test her nerves. 

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5 thoughts on “How Many Words Constitute Plagarism? I Want to Know What You Were Taught in High School.

  1. Prodvijenie Saitov

    Greeting. I’ve never quite believed that one chance is all I get.
    I am from Palestinian and learning to speak English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: "Search engine optimization, seo, and search engine marketing guide.Seo aware sarasota offers seo, sem, social media marketing, seo consulting, online advertising and marketing seo sarasota tampa, orlando, naples, mi."

    Thanks for the help :-(, Greg.

  2. Ford

    Hey. I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it.
    I am from Comoros and learning to read in English, give please true I wrote the following sentence: "Gaz currently accounts for around per cent of new car sales, while avtovaz has about per cent of the market.Automobile, plastic production, paint phop."

    😀 Thanks in advance. Palesa.

  3. ICGB

    I don’t ever remember being told a word count up to plagiarism. If you use someone else’s words, credit them.

    The academic world takes plagiarism very seriously. One of my husband’s colleagues was denied tenure because of plagiarism in his research. A tenured friend of ours was merely a little sloppy with attribution in one area of a research paper and now her career is in a shambles.

    Also, my husband (a prof.) has failed students because of plagiarism in term papers – even students on the verge of graduation.

  4. Brian A. Klems

    In high school we were taught that anything above five words had to be attributed. I don’t believe there was a rhyme or reason to the number and, if there were, I remember it as much as I remember trigonometry.

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