What is Plagiarism?
At its simplest, it's a dishonest attempt to pass somebody else's work or somebody else's ideas off as your own. It's a kind of stealing. If you copy out material from a book, or an article, or from the Internet, or from another student's work, and you pretend that the material is yours, then you're plagiarising. No argument about that - it's as if you went into a supermarket and put stuff in your pocket without ever intending to pay for it.
But there are other forms of plagiarism as well. Sometimes you can do it by accident. When you're planning an essay, you take material from books or articles or the Internet. You're supposed to do this, of course. But it's possible to get these notes mixed up with notes you actually have written yourself, and even to come to think that what Professor X wrote was your idea in the first place. This is like getting confused in the supermarket and putting stuff in your shopping bag without really meaning to. It might be more innocent than doing it deliberately, but it's still shoplifting. And doing it when you're writing an essay is still plagiarism.
So, guarding against plagiarism isn't all that simple.
Go on to find out more about the right way to use other people's work and how not to fall into plagiarism.