Rhetorical Questions in Essays: 5 Things you should Know
Rhetorical questions can be useful in writing. So, why shouldn’t you use rhetorical questions in essays?
In this article, I outline 5 key reasons that explain the problem with rhetorical questions in essays.
Despite the value of rhetorical questions for engaging audiences, they mean trouble in your university papers. Teachers tend to hate them.
There are endless debates among students as to why or why not to use rhetorical questions. But, I’m here to tell you that – despite your (and my) protestations – the jury’s in. Many, many teachers hate rhetorical questions.
You’re therefore not doing yourself any favors in using them in your essays.
Rhetorical Question Examples
A rhetorical question is a type of metacommentary . It is a question whose purpose is to add creative flair to your writing. It is a way of adding style to your essay.
Rhetorical questions usually either have obvious answers, or no answers, or do not require an answer . Here are some examples:
- Are you seriously wearing that?
- Do you think I’m that gullible?
- What is the meaning of life?
- What would the walls say if they could speak?
I understand why people like to use rhetorical questions in introductions. You probably enjoy writing. You probably find rhetorical questions engaging, and you want to draw your marker in, engage them, and wow them with your knowledge.
>>>RELATED POST: HOW TO WRITE THE PERFECT INTRODUCTION
1. Rhetorical Questions in Academic Writing: They Don’t belong.
Rhetorical questions are awesome … for blogs, diaries, and creative writing. They engage the audience and ask them to predict answers.
But, sorry, they suck for essays. Academic writing is not supposed to be creative writing .
Here’s the difference between academic writing and creative writing:
- Supposed to be read for enjoyment first and foremost.
- Can be flamboyant, extravagant, and creative.
- Can leave the reader in suspense.
- Can involve twists, turns, and surprises.
- Can be in the third or first person.
- Readers of creative writing read texts from beginning to end – without spoilers.
Rhetorical questions are designed to create a sense of suspense and flair. They, therefore, belong as a rhetorical device within creative writing genres.
Now, let’s look at academic writing:
- Supposed to be read for information and analysis of real-life ideas.
- Focused on fact-based information.
- Clearly structured and orderly.
- Usually written in the third person language only.
- Readers of academic writing scan the texts for answers, not questions.
Academic writing should never, ever leave the reader in suspense. Therefore, rhetorical questions have no place in academic writing.
Academic writing should be in the third person – and rhetorical questions are not quite in the third person. The rhetorical question appears as if you are talking directly to the reader. It is almost like writing in the first person – an obvious fatal error in the academic writing genre.
Your marker will be reading your work looking for answers , not questions. They will be rushed, have many papers to mark, and have a lot of work to do. They don’t want to be entertained. They want answers.
Therefore, academic writing needs to be straight to the point, never leave your reader unsure or uncertain, and always signpost key ideas in advance.
Here’s an analogy:
- When you came onto this post, you probably did not read everything from start to end. You probably read each sub-heading first, then came back to the top and started reading again. You weren’t interested in suspense or style. You wanted to find something out quickly and easily. I’m not saying this article you’re reading is ‘academic writing’ (it isn’t). But, what I am saying is that this text – like your essay – is designed to efficiently provide information first and foremost. I’m not telling you a story. You, like your teacher, are here for answers to a question. You are not here for a suspenseful story. Therefore, rhetorical questions don’t fit here.
I’ll repeat: rhetorical questions just don’t fit within academic writing genres.
2. Rhetorical Questions can come across as Passive
It’s not your place to ask a question. It’s your place to show your command of the content. Rhetorical questions are by definition passive: they ask of your reader to do the thinking, reflecting, and questioning for you.
Questions of any kind tend to give away a sense that you’re not quite sure of yourself. Imagine if the five points for this blog post were:
- Are they unprofessional?
- Are they passive?
- Are they seen as padding?
- Are they cliché?
- Do teachers hate them?
If the sub-headings of this post were in question format, you’d probably – rightly – return straight back to google and look for the next piece of advice on the topic. That’s because questions don’t assist your reader. Instead, they demand something from your reader .
Questions – rhetorical or otherwise – a position you as passive, unsure of yourself, and skirting around the point. So, avoid them.
3. Rhetorical Questions are seen as Padding
When a teacher reads a rhetorical question, they’re likely to think that the sentence was inserted to fill a word count more than anything else.
>>>RELATED ARTICLE: HOW TO MAKE AN ESSAY LONGER >>>RELATED ARTICLE: HOW TO MAKE AN ESSAY SHORTER
Rhetorical questions have a tendency to be written by students who are struggling to come to terms with an essay question. They’re well below word count and need to find an extra 15, 20, or 30 words here and there to hit that much-needed word count.
In order to do this, they fill space with rhetorical questions.
It’s a bit like going into an interview for a job. The interviewer asks you a really tough question and you need a moment to think up an answer. You pause briefly and mull over the question. You say it out loud to yourself again, and again, and again.
You do this for every question you ask. You end up answering every question they ask you with that same question, and then a brief pause.
Sure, you might come up with a good answer to your rhetorical question later on, but in the meantime, you have given the impression that you just don’t quite have command over your topic.
4. Rhetorical Questions are hard to get right
As a literary device, the rhetorical question is pretty difficult to execute well. In other words, only the best can get away with it.
The vast majority of the time, the rhetorical question falls on deaf ears. Teachers scoff, roll their eyes, and sigh just a little every time an essay begins with a rhetorical question.
The rhetorical question feels … a little ‘middle school’ – cliché writing by someone who hasn’t quite got a handle on things.
Let your knowledge of the content win you marks, not your creative flair. If your rhetorical question isn’t as good as you think it is, your marks are going to drop – big time.
5. Teachers Hate Rhetorical Questions in Essays
This one supplants all other reasons.
The fact is that there are enough teachers out there who hate rhetorical questions in essays that using them is a very risky move.
Believe me, I’ve spent enough time in faculty lounges to tell you this with quite some confidence. My opinion here doesn’t matter. The sheer amount of teachers who can’t stand rhetorical questions in essays rule them out entirely.
Whether I (or you) like it or not, rhetorical questions will more than likely lose you marks in your paper.
Don’t shoot the messenger.
Some (possible) Exceptions
Personally, I would say don’t use rhetorical questions in academic writing – ever.
But, I’ll offer a few suggestions of when you might just get away with it if you really want to use a rhetorical question:
- As an essay title. I would suggest that most people who like rhetorical questions embrace them because they are there to ‘draw in the reader’ or get them on your side. I get that. I really do. So, I’d recommend that if you really want to include a rhetorical question to draw in the reader, use it as the essay title. Keep the actual essay itself to the genre style that your marker will expect: straight up the line, professional and informative text.
“97 percent of scientists argue climate change is real. Such compelling weight of scientific consensus places the 3 percent of scientists who dissent outside of the scientific mainstream.”
The takeaway point here is, if I haven’t convinced you not to use rhetorical questions in essays, I’d suggest that you please check with your teacher on their expectations before submission.
Don’t shoot the messenger. Have I said that enough times in this post?
I didn’t set the rules, but I sure as hell know what they are. And one big, shiny rule that is repeated over and again in faculty lounges is this: Don’t Use Rhetorical Questions in Essays . They are risky, appear out of place, and are despised by a good proportion of current university teachers.
To sum up, here are my top 5 reasons why you shouldn’t use rhetorical questions in your essays:
- They don’t belong in the Academic Writing Genre
- They can come across as Passive
- They’re seen as Padding
- They’re cliché (and, therefore, Awkward)
- Teachers Hate Them
Chris Drew (PhD)
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ Underrepresented Groups: Definition and 15 Examples
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 10 Conditioned Response Examples
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ Behaviorism - Skinner's Education Learning Theory (27 Facts)
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ Counterfactual Thinking: 10 Examples and Definition
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Mastering the Art of Rhetorical Questions: A Guide to Using Them Effectively in Your Essays
Table of contents
If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
These lines are from William Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, wherein he uses consecutive rhetorical questions to evoke a sense of human empathy. This literary technique certainly worked here because the speech manages to move us and pushes us to think.
Writers have been incorporating rhetorical questions together for centuries. So, why not take inspiration and include them in your college essays too?
A rhetorical question is asked more to create an impact or make a statement rather than get an answer. When used effectively, it is a powerful literary device that can add immense value to your writing.
How to Use Rhetorical Questions in an Essay
Thinking of using rhetorical questions? Start thinking about what you want your reader to take away from it. Craft it as a statement and then convert it into a rhetorical question. Make sure you use rhetorical questions in context to the more significant point you are trying to make.
Let’s examine everything you must know about using this literary device to strengthen your writing.
When to Use Rhetorical Questions in Essays
Wondering when you can use rhetorical questions? Here are four ways to tactfully use them to take your writing a notch higher and make your essays more thought-provoking.
We all know how important it is to start your essay with an interesting hook that grabs the reader’s attention and keeps them interested. Do you know what would make great essay hooks? Rhetorical questions.
When you begin with a rhetorical question, you make the reader reflect and indicate where you are headed with the essay. Instead of starting your essay with a dull, bland statement, posing a question to make a point is a lot more striking.
Here’s a video on how you can use rhetorical questions as essay hooks
What is the world without art?
Starting your essay on art with this question is a clear indication of the angle you are taking. This question does not seek an answer because it aims to make readers feel that the world would be dreary without art.
Your writing is considered genuinely effective when you trigger an emotional response and strike a chord with the reader.
Whether it’s evoking feelings of joy, sadness, rage, hope, or disgust, rhetorical questions can stir the emotional appeal you are going for. They do the work of subtly influencing readers to feel what you are feeling.
So, if you want readers to nod with the agreement, using rhetorical questions to garner that response is a good idea, which is why they are commonly used in persuasive essays.
Doesn’t everyone have the right to be free?
What comes to your mind when you are met with this question? The obvious answer is – yes! This is a fine way to instill compassion and consideration among people.
Emphasize a Point
Making a statement and following it up with a rhetorical question is a smart way to emphasize on it and drive the message home. It can be a disturbing statistic, a well-known fact, or even an argument you are presenting, but when you choose to end it with a question, it tends to draw more emphasis and makes the reader sit up and listen.
Sometimes, rather than saying it as a statement, inserting a question leaves a more significant impact.
Between 700 and 800 racehorses are injured and die yearly, with a national average of about two breakdowns for every 1,000 starts. How many will more horses be killed in the name of entertainment?
The question inserted after presenting such a startling statistic is more to express frustration and make the reader realize the gravity of the situation.
Make a Smooth Transition
One of the critical elements while writing an essay is the ability to make smooth transitions from one point or section to another. The essay needs to flow logically while staying within the topic. This is a tricky skill, and few get it right.
Using rhetorical questions is one way to connect paragraphs and maintain cohesiveness in writing. You can pose questions when you want to introduce a new point or conclude a point and emphasize it.
Did you know that Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers? Yes, they accounted for a combined 15.2 million deaths in 2016.
Writing an essay on the leading causes of death? This is an intelligent way to introduce the reason and then go on to explain it.
Types of Rhetorical Questions
Yes, there are types. Here are the three different kinds of rhetorical questions you can use in your essays.
This rhetorical question is meant to express disapproval or shame to the reader. Not meant to obtain an answer; it is a way to convince the reader by demonstrating frustration or grief.
"Have you eyes? Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed, And batten on this moor? Ha! have you eyes?” - Hamlet, William Shakespeare
This is used to express strong affirmation or denial. It usually implies an answer without giving the expectations of getting one. Erotesis or erotica is used to push the reader to ponder and reflect.
“O mighty Caesar! Dost thou lie so low? Are all thy conquests, Glories, triumphs, spoils, Shrunk to this little Measure?” - Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare
When a question is raised and is immediately answered, it is referred to as hypophora. It is used in a conversational style of writing and aids in generating curiosity in the reader. It’s also a way to make smooth transitions in the essay while letting the writer completely control the narrative.
What made me take this trip to Africa? There is no quick explanation. Things got worse and worse and worse and pretty soon they were too complicated.” - Henderson the Rain King, Saul Bellow
3 Mistakes You Must AVOID while Incorporating Rhetorical Questions
Yes, there is a lot you can achieve and communicate with the use of rhetorical questions. However, it is important to use them sparingly and wherever appropriate. Rhetorical questions cannot be used in every piece of writing.
Using Rhetorical Questions in Thesis Statements
Asking a rhetorical question in your thesis statement is an absolute no-no because thesis statements are meant to answer a question, not pose another question.
Through the thesis statement, you need to highlight the central argument of your essay. Using this space to insert a rhetorical question is certainly a waste of space as it fails to indicate what your paper is about.
The right way to do this would be to start your introduction with a rhetorical question and end the introductory paragraph with a thesis statement that can answer the question raised.
Overusing Rhetorical Questions
Who’s to blame for climate change? How long will we deny the impending danger? What are we leaving for future generations?
Is this impactful? No. It isn’t enjoyable.
Subjecting the reader to an overdose of rhetorical questions, consequently or not, makes for an annoying reading experience.
While you might think you are creating an impact and driving your message home, the truth is, using too many rhetorical questions makes it lose steam. It can overwhelm your readers and add no value to the essay.
So, to create the impact it should, it is crucial to craft a solid rhetorical question and use it sparingly.
Using Rhetorical Questions in Research Papers
Research papers require you to research a topic, take a stand and justify your claims. It’s a formal piece of writing that must be based on facts and research.
The style of writing needs to be straightforward. Moreover, the paper needs to give the reader answers and not pose more questions, which explains why rhetorical questions are inappropriate for research papers.
So, keep this literary device for persuasive or argumentative essays and creative writing pieces instead of using them in research papers.
While rhetorical questions are effective literary devices, you should know when using a rhetorical question is worthwhile and if it adds value to the piece of writing.
If you are struggling with rhetorical questions and are wondering how to get them right, don’t worry. We at Writers Per Hour can help you write an essay using the correct literary devices, such as rhetorical questions, that will only alleviate your writing.
So, buy an essay from us and let our team of experts deliver a professional, well-written one that will impress your instructors.
Last edit at May 05 2023
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Should you use Rhetoric Questions in an Essay?
Rhetorical questions are questions asked to make a point or to create a dramatic effect rather than to get an answer.
Many college professors discourage using rhetorical questions in essays, and the majority agree that they can be used only in specific circumstances.
While they are helpful for the person writing an essay, if you want to include them in an essay, ensure that you rephrase them into a sentence, indirect question, or statement.
It is essential to say that there is only minimal space for including rhetorical questions in academic writing.
This post will help you discover why professors discourage using rhetorical questions in essays and when it is okay to use them. Let's dive in!
Why do professors discourage the use of rhetorical questions in academic papers?
We love rhetorical questions for the flair they add to written pieces. They help authors achieve some sense of style when writing essays. However, since they have an obvious answer, no answer, or require no answer, they have no place in academic writing, not even the essay hooks. They are a way to engage the audience by letting them keep thinking of the answer as they read through your text. Avoid using rhetorical essays in academic writing unless you are doing creative writing. There is no room for suspense in academic writing. Let’s find out why professors discourage them so badly in any form of academic writing, not just essay writing alone!
1. Because they don't belong in academic writing
Rhetorical questions are awesome; they can help engage your readers and keep them interested in your writing. However, they are only perfect for creative writing, diaries, and blogs and are not appropriate for academic writing. This is because academic writing is about logic, facts, and arguments, while rhetorical questions are about entertainment. The two are incompatible; the questions do not belong in academic writing.
Rhetorical questions are typically utilized in creative writing to create flair and suspense. However, academic writing does not need flair or suspense. Because most academic writing assignments are based on facts, evidence, arguments, and analysis. Thus, there is no need for the creation of flair or suspense. In other words, there is no space for rhetorical questions in academic writing.
Another thing that shows that rhetorical questions don't belong in academic writing is that they are usually written in the first person. The fact that they are written in the first person means they do not fit in academic writing, where students are usually urged to write in the third person. So while it is okay for rhetorical questions to feature in creative writing where the author addresses the reader, it is not okay for the questions to feature in academic writing where everything should be matter-of-fact.
Lastly, rhetorical questions do not belong in academic writing because readers of academic works do not expect to see them. When you start reading an academic paper, you expect answers, and you don't expect suspense, flair, or entertainment. Therefore, you will most likely be confused and even upset when you see rhetorical questions in an academic paper.
2. Because they come across as passive
When writing an academic paper as a student, you are expected to show your mastery of the content; you are expected to demonstrate your command of the content. What you are not likely to do is to pose rhetorical questions, and this is because the questions are passive and, therefore, unsuitable for academic papers. Specifically, passive voice is unsuitable for academic papers because it is dull and lazy. What is appropriate and recommended for academic papers is active voice, and this is because it is clear and concise.
You now know why you should not use passive rhetorical questions in academic papers. Another reason why you should not use passive rhetorical questions is that they will make you sound as if you are unsure of yourself. If you are sure about the points and arguments you are making in your paper, you will not ask passive rhetorical questions. Instead, you will develop your paper confidently from the introduction to the conclusion.
When you ask your readers passive rhetorical questions, you will make them Google or think about the answer. These are not the things that readers want to be doing when reading academic papers. They want to see well-developed ideas and arguments and be informed, inspired, and educated. Thus, you should spare them the need to do things they do not plan to do by not using rhetorical questions in your academic paper.
3. Because they are seen as padding
When your professor sees a rhetorical question in your essay, they will think you are just trying to fill the minimum word count. In other words, they will think you are trying to cheat the system by filling the word count with an unnecessary sentence. This could lead to you getting penalized, which you do not want for your essay if you are aiming for a top grade.
Why do professors see rhetorical questions as padding? Well, it is because struggling students are the ones who typically use rhetorical questions in their essays. Therefore, when professors see these questions, they assume that the student struggled to meet the word count, so they throw in a few rhetorical questions.
4. Because they are hard to get right
It is not easy to ask rhetorical questions correctly, especially in essays. This is because there are several things to consider when asking them, including the location, the words, the punctuation, and the answer. Most of the time, when students ask rhetorical questions in their papers, professors roll their eyes because most students ask them wrong.
The correct way to ask a rhetorical question is to ask it in the right place, in the right way, and to use the correct punctuation. You will discover how to do these things in the second half of this post. Don't just ask a rhetorical question for the sake of it; ask only when necessary.
5. Because professors hate them
If the other reasons why professors discourage rhetorical questions have not convinced you to give up on using them, this one should. Professors hate rhetorical questions, and they don't like them because they feel the questions don't belong in academic papers. Therefore, when you use them, you risk irking your professor and increasing your likelihood of getting a lower grade. So if you don't want a lower grade, you should give rhetorical questions a wide berth.
Your professor might love rhetorical questions. However, including rhetorical questions in your essay is a risk you do not want to take. Because your hunch about them liking rhetorical questions might be wrong, resulting in a bad grade for you.
When to use rhetorical questions in academic papers
You now know professors do not like seeing rhetorical questions in academic papers. However, this does not mean you cannot use them. There are situations when it is okay to use rhetorical questions in your academic papers. Below you will discover the instances when it is appropriate to use rhetorical questions in your essays.
1. When introducing your essay
When introducing your essay, you must try to grab the reader's attention with your first two or three sentences. The best way to do this is to use a hook statement – an exciting statement that makes the reader want to read the rest of the paper to find out more. And the best way to write a hook statement is as a rhetorical question.
When you write your hook statement as a rhetorical question, you will make your reader think about the question and the topic before they continue to read your introduction . This will most likely pique their interest in the topic and make them want to read the rest of your essay.
Therefore, instead of starting your essay with a dull and ordinary hook statement, you should start it with a powerful rhetorical question. This will undoubtedly hook your reader. Below is a good example of a rhetorical question hook statement:
Where could the world be without the United Nations?
Starting your essay with the question above will definitely hook any reader and give the reader an idea of the angle you want to take in your essay.
2. When you want to evoke emotions
Most academic papers are supposed to be written in the third person and should also be emotionless, well-organized, and to the point. However, there are some that can be written in the first person. Good examples of such essays include personal essays and reflective essays.
When you are writing personal essays, it is okay to express emotions. And one of the best ways to do it is by using rhetorical questions. These questions are perfect for evoking emotions because they make the reader think and reflect. And making your reader think and reflect is an excellent way to make them relate to your story.
The most appropriate way to use rhetorical questions to evoke emotions is to make your questions target specific feelings such as rage, hope, happiness, sadness, and so on. Targeted questions will help your reader think about certain things and feelings, which will undoubtedly influence what they will feel thereafter. Below is an excellent example of a rhetorical question used to evoke emotions:
Doesn't everyone deserve to be free?
This question makes you feel compassion for those who are not free and makes you think about them and the things they are going through.
3. When you want to emphasize something
Using a rhetorical question to emphasize a point is okay, especially in a personal essay. The right way to do this is to make the statement you want to highlight and ask a rhetorical question immediately after. Emphasizing a statement using a rhetorical question will help drive your message home, and it will also help leave an impact on the reader. Below is an excellent example of a rhetorical question used to emphasize the statement before it:
Nearly 1000 racehorses die or get injured every year. Is the killing and maiming of horses justified in this age of cars and underground trains?
The rhetorical question above brings into sharp focus the statement about the number of horses killed yearly and makes the reader think about the number of horses killed or injured annually.
4. When you want to make a smooth transition
One of the best ways to transition from one topic to the next is by using a rhetorical question. It is essential to transition smoothly from one point to the next if you want your essay to have an excellent flow.
A rhetorical question can help you to make a smooth transition from one point to the next by alerting the reader to a new topic. Below is an excellent example of a rhetorical question used to make a smooth transition from one paragraph to the next:
Did you know malaria remains one of Africa's leading causes of infant mortality? The tropical disease accounted for over half a million infant deaths in 2020.
The statement above smartly alerts the reader about a new topic and introduces it in a smooth and calculated manner.
Mistakes to avoid when using rhetorical questions
If you decide to use rhetorical questions in your essays, there are some mistakes you should avoid.
1. Overusing them
Using rhetorical questions in academic papers is okay, but you should never overuse them. The number of rhetorical questions in your essay should never exceed two, and more than two rhetorical questions are just too many for an essay.
2. Using them in research papers
Research papers are the most formal of academic papers. Most professors who give research paper assignments do not fancy seeing rhetorical questions in them. Therefore, you should never use rhetorical questions in research papers.
3. Never use them as your thesis statement
Your thesis statement should be a statement that is logical, concise, and complete. It should never be a question, let alone a rhetorical one.
As you have discovered in this article, rhetorical questions should ideally not be used in essays. This is because they do not belong, professors hate them, and so on. However, as you have also discovered, there are some situations when it is okay to use rhetorical questions. In other words, you can use rhetorical questions in the right circumstances. The fact that you now know these circumstances should enable you to use rhetorical questions in your essays, if necessary, correctly.
You should talk to us if you are too busy to write your essay or edit it to make it professional enough. Our company provides both essay writing and essay editing services at affordable rates. Contact us today for assistance or simply order your essay using our essay order page.
What are rhetorical questions?
Rhetorical questions are questions asked to make a point rather than to get an answer. They are often used in creative writing to create a dramatic effect or a sense of suspense.
When and how to use rhetorical questions in essays
Professors hate rhetorical questions in essays . You should only use them sparingly and when absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you should not use them at all.
What mistakes should you avoid when using rhetorical questions in essays?
You should never use a rhetorical question in place of a good thesis statement . You should also never use a rhetorical question in a research paper.
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Is It Okay to Ask Rhetorical Questions in an Essay
Whereas rhetoric questions are literal devices that add some flair to your writing, there is a debate on whether it is okay to use them. The opponents of rhetoric questions claim they add no value and seem to confuse a reader, while proponents argue they are necessary.
With such conflicting stands, many students get confused about their use. So, is it okay to ask rhetorical questions in an essay, or should they be avoided altogether? We sought to find the actual standing and the accepted rule in their use, and here is what we found out.
Generally, it is okay to ask a rhetorical question in your essay and not in academic ones.
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Rhetorical questions are a great way to engage your readers and make them think about the subject. However, when it comes to academic writing, rhetorical questions tend to be inappropriate because academic writing mainly gauges your understanding of a subject matter. On the other hand, essays outside educational institutions are used for information; thus, these questions are an effective drawing-in tool.
In persuasive essays, rhetorical questions also create a particular effect or challenge the reader’s beliefs, and they can help persuade the reader to agree with your point of view.
However, it would help if you used rhetorical questions sparingly and strategically in an essay. Too many of them will make your writing sound repetitive and monotonous, leading to a loss of interest in readers.
Also: Will I be flagged for plagiarism if I use the same essay twice?
It also means you should use these questions to ensure a reader feels compelled to think about the answer. You should have a valid reason to ask and that it adds value to your essay rather than just asking it for no reason. A good rule of thumb is that if the question doesn’t compel you, it is unnecessary.
Why You Should Not Use Rhetorical Questions in an Essay
Rhetorical questions are excellent, but it is important not to overuse them. The more rhetorical questions you use in an essay, the less likely your audience will take you seriously.
Here are more reasons why you should not use them in essays;
They are a cliché
A cliché weakens your writing and makes it look empty. The questions leave your readers confused and sometimes annoyed because they do not get the meaning of what you are trying to say.
Further, they have been used so many times that they are no longer effective in creating an impact on the reader. Instead, they sound like the writer is just trying to make a point without having any arguments or evidence to support it. In other words, they do not add anything to your essay.
Thus, it is always advised to avoid using these questions if you want to make your essay look sharp and well-thought-out.
Professors hate them
Another reason you should not use rhetorical questions is that professors frown upon them. This is because it does not provide evidence or reasoning for your point of view. In addition, it can be very distracting for the reader who wants to see proof or reason behind your argument.
They are a form of padding
Rhetorical questions should not be used in essays because they do not add depth or insight to your topic. It can also be boring for the reader, especially if using too many rhetorical questions.
Generally, they are not allowed in academic writings
Rhetorical questions in essay writing are usually not allowed because they do not provide evidence for your argument. Moreover, they do not express any specific details about your topic; thus, your professor may either discourage their use or ask you to minimize it.
Exceptional Cases On When to Use Rhetorical Questions in an Essay
Even though rhetorical questions use is primarily discouraged, there are exceptional cases when they serve the purpose.
These exceptions include argumentative essays in titles or introductions, and they serve the following purposes;
When you want to create a conversational tone with your readers
In many instances, some essays are technical, and you may want to create a conversation with your readers. As such, the use of rhetorical questions comes in handy and is a beneficial strategy.
These questions help you to connect with your readers better because they encourage dialogue and discussion between you and your readers.
In addition, rhetorical questions can be very effective when used correctly as an aspect of a persuasive speech or essay because they encourage the audience to think about a particular part of an argument.
This is necessary because it helps you engage with the readers rather than just accepting what is being said without question. This helps make the argument more interesting for the audience and makes them want to keep listening or reading further.
When there is doubt about a widely believed issue
Rhetorical questions often provoke thought but can also hide the writer’s real thoughts. The first use is more common in academic writing, while the second is more prevalent in literary writing.
In essay writing, it’s vital to make sure that your audience understands your point of view. When there is doubt about a widely believed issue, a rhetorical question can help clarify your point of view by forcing the reader to reconsider their opinion.
Thus it is a way of persuading someone to agree with you. A rhetorical question may be posed as an exaggeration, which can be used as an argument against another person’s views and opinions.
Can You Use a Rhetorical Question as a Title for an Essay
You can use a rhetorical question as an essay’s title, but there are specific rules. Firstly, it should be attention-grabbing to grab a reader and make them want to read the entire piece. Further, a rhetorical question can make a compelling title if you are writing a persuasive essay.
For example, if writing on green energy, you may have a title such as 90% of experts agree green energy is the future: Who would disagree with such a considerable percentage of experts?
Therefore you may use one in a title but ensure it is effective and you will not lose your potential readers.
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44 Cool Examples of a Rhetorical Question to Understand it Better
Have you noticed how many questions cross your mind on a daily basis or how many you ask the people around you? Do you ever stop to wonder if these rhetorical questions really provide a satisfactory answer to what your seeking? Isn't it kind of pesky to be barraged with questions that you are unable to directly answer? Wouldn't it be nice to get a better understanding of rhetorical questions with relevant examples with this Penlighten post?
Have you noticed how many questions cross your mind on a daily basis or how many you ask the people around you? Do you ever stop to wonder if these rhetorical questions really provide a satisfactory answer to what your seeking? Isn’t it kind of pesky to be barraged with questions that you are unable to directly answer? Wouldn’t it be nice to get a better understanding of rhetorical questions with relevant examples with this Penlighten post?
During the 1580s English printer Henry Denham invented the ‘rhetorical question mark’ (؟) to be used at the end of a rhetorical question. The usage of this sardonic punctuation mark faded during the 17th century.
The ancient Athenians believed that success and charm of an individual depended on his rhetorical ability to speak and debate. The word rhetorical is derived from the Latin word rhetoricus and the Greek word rhetorikos which means skilled speaker or orator. The technical term for a rhetorical question is Erotema which in Greek means question. In literary terms, these questions are persuasive or thought-provoking, they can be humorous, self-explanatory, or reflective.
Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the phrase ‘rhetorical question’ first appeared in English more than 300 years ago. The dictionary further indicates that it was published for the first time on a political pamphlet written by the First Earl of Anglesey in 1686: ‘To this Rhetorical Question the Commons pray they may Answer by another Question’. In a 1721 religious text written by Robert Manning, an illustration as well as the rhetorical question with its phrase appears: ‘But, to turn your fine Rhetorical Question upon yourself, cannot you enjoy the Advantages you have over impenitent Sinners, and the Devils without Damning them all to the Pit of Hell forever?’
Rhetorical Question: A figure of speech indicating a question asked only to produce an effect or make a statement, rather than to evoke an answer or information. It is asked when the questioner already knows the answer or an answer is not really required.
Meaning & Purpose
★ The Greeks took lessons to mesmerize audiences with their oratory and public speaking skills mostly for political reasons and to influence the voter. The technique they applied to keep the crowd spellbound is known as rhetoric or with rhetorical questions. This technique is still used by politicians, lecturers, priests and other skilled orators to keep their audience in control and get engaged in their ideologies.
★ A rhetorical question may already have an obvious answer, but the questioner asks these questions to lay emphasis on the projected point. In literature, it is used for style and as a strong persuasive device. These questions provoke deep thoughts, sometimes impose sarcastic reasoning, and are often used as a tool during debates to avoid obtaining an immediate declaration.
★ Writers employ this technique for rhetorical effects to arouse the interest of the reader and enjoy the aesthetic beauty the questions generate. Effective speakers know how to stir audience reaction, such questions make the audience a partner of the speaker’s statements. Instead of presenting one-way emotional statements, the orator involves the audience more emotionally by invoking their curiosity and surprising them with a rhetorical question.
★ These questions can be used as an exclamation point on an introducing statement. While the introducing statement may be a factual statement, a rhetorical question forces your audience to think hard about it. Careful use of misdirection in a speech is an effective way of generating audience surprise, and this results in them being active participants. One form of misdirection is when you make a statement which leads in one direction, and then follow it up with a statement that pulls in the opposite direction.
★ A rhetorical question is a figure of speech that needs no expectation of a reply. The use of a rhetorical questions is mostly to encourage the listener to think about what the obvious answer to the question must be. Rhetorical questions can therefore be used as a device by the speaker to assert or deny something. Types of rhetorical questions include: Metaphors and Negative assertions.
General Rhetorical Questions
★ Is the Pope Catholic?
★Is this a great product?
★ Is the sky blue?
★ Do you want to be a big failure for the rest of your life?
★ Is there anyone smarter than me?
★ Is this supposed to be some kind of a joke?
★ There’s no hope, is there?
★ Who cares?
★ How much longer can this injustice continue?
★ Could I possibly love you more?
★ What the hell?
★ What is so rare as a day in June?
★ Would you like to swing on a star?
★ What defense do the homeless have, if the government will not protect them?
★ Smoking causes lung cancer. Who knew?
★ You were at the scene of the crime, correct?
★ How corrupt is the government?
★ If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?
★ It is near not a good place to visit. Is it?
★ You don’t expect me to go along with that crazy scheme, do you?
Funny Rhetorical Questions
★ If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?
★ Marriage is a great Institution, but who wants to live in an institution?
★ Why are there locks on the doors to the convenience store that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?
★ Why does Teflon stick to the frying pan, since nothing ever sticks to Teflon?
★ Why are highways build so close to the ground?
★ Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?
★ Can good-looking Eskimo girls be called hot?
★ Do fish feel thirsty in the water?
★ Why do they call someone “late” if they died early?
★ Do man-eater sharks eat women too?
★ Why is it called ‘after dark’, when it is really after light?
★ Why don’t they call mustaches ‘mouthbrows?’
★ Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
★ Crime doesn’t pay… does that mean my job is a crime
★ Can you cry underwater?
★ Do pilots take crash courses?
★ If people from Poland are called Poles, why aren’t people from Holland called Holes?
★ Why isn’t the number 11 pronounced onety one?
★ What hair color do they put on the driver’s licenses of bald men?
★ Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person that drives a race car is not called a racist?
Rhetorical Questions in Literature
★ “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” ― Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet”
★ Mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low? Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils, Shrunk to this little measure? ― Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”
★ If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? ― Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”
Rhetorical Questions in Poetry
★ How do you think I feel when you make me talk to you and won’t let me stop till the words turn into a moan? Do you think I mind when you put your hand over my mouth and tell me not to move so you can “hear” it happening? ― Rhetorical Questions- Hugo Williams
Rhetoric question normally prompts an individual or a crowd to ponder upon their own opinions and notions rather than specifically answer out loud.
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- How to write a rhetorical analysis | Key concepts & examples
How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis | Key Concepts & Examples
Published on August 28, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on December 5, 2022.
A rhetorical analysis is a type of essay that looks at a text in terms of rhetoric. This means it is less concerned with what the author is saying than with how they say it: their goals, techniques, and appeals to the audience.
Table of contents
Key concepts in rhetoric, analyzing the text, introducing your rhetorical analysis, the body: doing the analysis, concluding a rhetorical analysis, frequently asked questions about rhetorical analysis.
Rhetoric, the art of effective speaking and writing, is a subject that trains you to look at texts, arguments and speeches in terms of how they are designed to persuade the audience. This section introduces a few of the key concepts of this field.
Appeals: Logos, ethos, pathos
Appeals are how the author convinces their audience. Three central appeals are discussed in rhetoric, established by the philosopher Aristotle and sometimes called the rhetorical triangle: logos, ethos, and pathos.
Logos , or the logical appeal, refers to the use of reasoned argument to persuade. This is the dominant approach in academic writing , where arguments are built up using reasoning and evidence.
Ethos , or the ethical appeal, involves the author presenting themselves as an authority on their subject. For example, someone making a moral argument might highlight their own morally admirable behavior; someone speaking about a technical subject might present themselves as an expert by mentioning their qualifications.
Pathos , or the pathetic appeal, evokes the audience’s emotions. This might involve speaking in a passionate way, employing vivid imagery, or trying to provoke anger, sympathy, or any other emotional response in the audience.
These three appeals are all treated as integral parts of rhetoric, and a given author may combine all three of them to convince their audience.
Text and context
In rhetoric, a text is not necessarily a piece of writing (though it may be this). A text is whatever piece of communication you are analyzing. This could be, for example, a speech, an advertisement, or a satirical image.
In these cases, your analysis would focus on more than just language—you might look at visual or sonic elements of the text too.
The context is everything surrounding the text: Who is the author (or speaker, designer, etc.)? Who is their (intended or actual) audience? When and where was the text produced, and for what purpose?
Looking at the context can help to inform your rhetorical analysis. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech has universal power, but the context of the civil rights movement is an important part of understanding why.
Claims, supports, and warrants
A piece of rhetoric is always making some sort of argument, whether it’s a very clearly defined and logical one (e.g. in a philosophy essay) or one that the reader has to infer (e.g. in a satirical article). These arguments are built up with claims, supports, and warrants.
A claim is the fact or idea the author wants to convince the reader of. An argument might center on a single claim, or be built up out of many. Claims are usually explicitly stated, but they may also just be implied in some kinds of text.
The author uses supports to back up each claim they make. These might range from hard evidence to emotional appeals—anything that is used to convince the reader to accept a claim.
The warrant is the logic or assumption that connects a support with a claim. Outside of quite formal argumentation, the warrant is often unstated—the author assumes their audience will understand the connection without it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still explore the implicit warrant in these cases.
For example, look at the following statement:
We can see a claim and a support here, but the warrant is implicit. Here, the warrant is the assumption that more likeable candidates would have inspired greater turnout. We might be more or less convinced by the argument depending on whether we think this is a fair assumption.
Rhetorical analysis isn’t a matter of choosing concepts in advance and applying them to a text. Instead, it starts with looking at the text in detail and asking the appropriate questions about how it works:
- What is the author’s purpose?
- Do they focus closely on their key claims, or do they discuss various topics?
- What tone do they take—angry or sympathetic? Personal or authoritative? Formal or informal?
- Who seems to be the intended audience? Is this audience likely to be successfully reached and convinced?
- What kinds of evidence are presented?
By asking these questions, you’ll discover the various rhetorical devices the text uses. Don’t feel that you have to cram in every rhetorical term you know—focus on those that are most important to the text.
The following sections show how to write the different parts of a rhetorical analysis.
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See an example
Like all essays, a rhetorical analysis begins with an introduction . The introduction tells readers what text you’ll be discussing, provides relevant background information, and presents your thesis statement .
Hover over different parts of the example below to see how an introduction works.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is widely regarded as one of the most important pieces of oratory in American history. Delivered in 1963 to thousands of civil rights activists outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech has come to symbolize the spirit of the civil rights movement and even to function as a major part of the American national myth. This rhetorical analysis argues that King’s assumption of the prophetic voice, amplified by the historic size of his audience, creates a powerful sense of ethos that has retained its inspirational power over the years.
The body of your rhetorical analysis is where you’ll tackle the text directly. It’s often divided into three paragraphs, although it may be more in a longer essay.
Each paragraph should focus on a different element of the text, and they should all contribute to your overall argument for your thesis statement.
Hover over the example to explore how a typical body paragraph is constructed.
King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.
The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis wraps up the essay by restating the main argument and showing how it has been developed by your analysis. It may also try to link the text, and your analysis of it, with broader concerns.
Explore the example below to get a sense of the conclusion.
It is clear from this analysis that the effectiveness of King’s rhetoric stems less from the pathetic appeal of his utopian “dream” than it does from the ethos he carefully constructs to give force to his statements. By framing contemporary upheavals as part of a prophecy whose fulfillment will result in the better future he imagines, King ensures not only the effectiveness of his words in the moment but their continuing resonance today. Even if we have not yet achieved King’s dream, we cannot deny the role his words played in setting us on the path toward it.
The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.
Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.
The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.
Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.
Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.
In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.
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Can you ask questions in an essay? How to Blend them Well
Use questions in an essay
Sometimes when writing an essay, you might have a point or an argument that is best presented through a simple question or a rhetorical question. In this post, we explore that questions can be asked in essays. We expound the tips to follow when one needs to ask questions in an essay, and how to do it.
For those who would need personalized help writing essays with questions, we have a team of expert essay writers who can guide you further or even write the whole assignment for you. Just check out that page. However, read on if you want to handle it yourself.
Whenever you ask questions in an essay, you must provide a correct satisfactory answer to that question. If you cannot answer it, you have to explain why the question cannot be resolved effectively.
Can you ask questions in an essay?
In academic writing, it is preferable specifying your research question as you start your paper and addressing it in the conclusion of your paper. The question should not be so dramatic to spark interest among readers.
The question should be specific and as simply answerable as possible. The questions you consider using in your research should not in any way confuse readers.
Ideally, you can ask questions in an essay, provided they are relevant and add value to the arguments of a paragraph. A question in an essay should always contribute something substantial to the arguments you make in the essay. Questions should not bring idle speculations that may drop the essay’s tone.
Questions are often very debatable and may change with time. Therefore, be sure of the questions you will use. This will help you put across clear and genuine arguments about the question.
As long as you can defend your argument, your critics will have to accept your points even if they are unconventional.
Questions that are not supported by strong existing debates and are mainly set up with the thought of pulling them down, later on, should be followed by a caution. This keeps you safe from attacks of those who may wish to fault your arguments.
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How to format a question in an essay?
According to the MLA writing format, questions in essays should be formatted as follows:
Use a colon to precede single questions that are contained in a sentence. This is done only if the word that comes before the question is not a verb. Capital letters should be used to start the questions.
Direct questions that are long with internal punctuations that are contained in a sentence should begin with a capital letter and set off with a comma.
Incorporating questions in sentences should be done correctly to avoid errors that can distort the information in a question.
For questions incorporated in series in sentences, lower case letters should be used to begin the questions.
The reason why these questions in series are not capitalized is that they do not begin with proper nouns and are incomplete.
Questions that are complete should always start with a capital letter and end with a question mark.
Questions in the APA format are to be formatted as APA requires. This includes using the size 12 Times New Roman font, double-spacing the text, and using one-inch margins.
For question and answer essays, use numerals followed by periods to show the position of the question. Hit enter to write the answer and hit enter again after the answer to write the next question.
There is no need to differentiate the answer and the question for example by making the question bold.
Can you Start or End an Essay with a question?
You can start your essay with a question. Questions have proved to be a good method of getting a reader hooked to your essay. They place the reader in doubt.
The reader is likely to mull over the issue rather than have their thoughts contradicted. Questions at the beginning of the essay also let the readers think about the issues that are discussed in the essay.
This keeps them involved as they go through the paper as well as give you a nice opportunity to use a different angle to answer the question.
Questions also can excellently introduce striking news. Questions starting an essay should be related to the concept you are writing about.
The questions should be answered in the introduction part. The answer forms the thesis of your essay.
As long as it is used effectively, it is not wrong to end your essay with a question. Questions can be used to involve readers and have their say on the topic discussed in the essay.
The question at the end of the essay should reflect on the issues discussed in the essay.
Ways of Ending an Essay with a Question
Concluding your essay can be effective in the following ways:
- Questions usually make further discussions possible. Readers can start a discussion and explore more on questions asked at the end of essays.
- Readers will always think and talk about essays that end with questions. They will always try to answer the question posed.
- It is easy for readers to connect and relate with your essay through questions used to end essays because they make the essay more intriguing. The questions also bring the reader close to your essay and can earn you some extra credit.
- Choosing a question that relates to your essay helps you easily summarize ideas you included in your essay and understand them clearly. Readers also are likely to familiarize themselves with the whole concept.
- When you need a reader to remember your essay, using a question to end your essay is one of the perfect strategies. Finishing your essay with a question is a unique element that can help your essay stand out.
Can you use rhetorical questions in academic writing?
Rhetorical questions have no room in academic writing. Rhetorical questions are not in third-person as academic writing should be.
They are in first-person which is a big error in academic writing. Academic writing needs to be direct to the point and there should be no room for posting questions, causing uncertainty, or entertaining the reader.
Suspense is also not allowed in academic writing. This makes the use of rhetorical questions unacceptable in academic writing.
Academic writing should always be informative and is not a form of creative writing.
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How to ask a rhetorical question in essays.
Rhetorical questions in essays can be asked in the following circumstances. When making emphases on a point, rhetorical questions can be used after statements to drive the message home.
Example: Almost 100 million is lost every year in government sponsorships. How much more will we lose in the name of support?
Mostly in persuasive essays, rhetorical questions are used to evoke emotions in readers. By managing to do so your essay can be regarded effective. Example: Isn’t everyone a sinner?
The most important reason why rhetorical questions are used in essays is that they serve as the best hooks to grab the attention of the reader. The reader can give a prediction of where you are headed in the essay. Example: What is the world without feminists?
Rhetorical questions can be used to bring about a smooth transition in an essay. You can pose a question to emphasize, conclude, or introduce a point.
This is usually a hard skill to master. Example: Do you know that corruption is the main form of misuse of funds? 20% of the national budget was lost to corruption in the previous financial year .
How to introduce a question in an essay?
To introduce an essay with a question you have to know what you are going to talk about in the essay. This helps you use a question that fits what you will write in the essay. Questions that appear in between the essay should connect well with your content.
Always have correct answers to the questions you want to introduce in your essay. The questions should make the readers doubt the knowledge they have in that particular area.
This can include a question with facts and striking facts about the topic involved. You can learn more about writing good essays by reading our blog on how to write good paragraphs for essays and papers.
Also, check whether you can italicize essays and essay titles to get another perspective in essay writing and different ways of formulating titles.
With over 10 years in academia and academic assistance, Alicia Smart is the epitome of excellence in the writing industry. She is our managing editor and is in charge of the writing operations at Grade Bees.
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What Is Rhetoric, and Why Is It Important?
Whenever you write a persuasive essay, talking points for a debate, or an argumentative essay, you use rhetoric. Even if you aren’t familiar with the term, you’ve used rhetoric to support the points you make in your writing. Rhetoric is the language you use to communicate your writing’s core message.
Academic writing, like the types of writing we mentioned above, isn’t the only kind of writing where rhetoric shows up. Rhetoric can appear in just about any kind of writing—but the type of rhetoric you use depends on the kind of writing you’re doing and the message you’re communicating.
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What is rhetoric?
Rhetoric is language that’s carefully constructed to persuade, motivate, or inform the reader or listener about the speaker or writer’s position. You might have heard the term used in discussions about politicians and political goals. That’s because politicians, alongside people in other roles that involve public speaking, employ rhetoric regularly. In fact, the word “rhetoric” comes from the Greek “rhetorikos,” which means “oratory.”
You’re probably familiar with the concept of a rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is a question that’s often asked to a broad audience in an effort to get the audience thinking seriously about the question and its implications. The speaker or writer doesn’t typically expect answers to the question; their goal is to facilitate a discussion. Here are a few examples of rhetorical questions:
- Are we doing the right thing?
- What is this, a joke?
- Can you imagine that?
Why is rhetoric important?
Rhetoric is important because it provides a framework for critical thinking. It demonstrates your thought processes as a writer and speaker. By doing this, it illustrates your arguments’ strengths.
To understand rhetoric, you need to understand the concept of heuristics . A heuristic is a practical approach to problem-solving or self-discovery. When you make an educated guess about something or use trial and error to reach a conclusion, you’ve used a heuristic. With heuristics, you don’t necessarily have to reach a precise answer; the goal is to reach an approximate or otherwise “good enough” solution.
Examples of heuristics:
- Drawing a diagram to work out a logistical or mathematical problem
- Working out a solution to an obstacle by assuming you already have a solution, then working backward through the theoretical steps you would have taken to reach that solution
- Using a concrete example to illustrate an abstract challenge
Here’s a quick example of a heuristic in action: You throw a holiday party every December. Despite inviting about twenty people to the party, an average of six or seven people show up each year. This year, you’ve invited twenty people again, but while planning for the party, you decide to order food for a group of ten. You know, from experience, that all twenty people likely won’t show up. But to err on the side of caution, you order slightly more food than you anticipate needing, so you’ve got enough in case this year has a higher-than-average turnout (and leftovers if it doesn’t).
Heuristics play a key role in rhetoric because speakers and writers often use them to illustrate the points they’re making. You might write a persuasive essay about the value an overnight campus shuttle service would provide by calculating its approximate cost and discussing the benefits it would provide in contrast to the percentage of the campus’ operating budget it would require. In this example, your rough monetary calculations and their value compared to the shuttle’s intangible benefits are heuristics.
A brief history of rhetoric
Rhetoric is one of the three ancient arts of discourse, also known as the trivium, alongside logic and grammar. Discourse is the formal exchange of ideas in conversation, typically in an orderly way characterized by all speakers taking time to express their positions, opinions, and data on a given subject.
The trivium, along with the quadrivium, make up the seven liberal arts. These are the academic disciplines taught in medieval European universities, defined as the core of a well-rounded education by scholars of the era. But the trivium as the basis of a standard education dates back further than that, to Plato’s time. Plato explained these three areas in detail in his dialogues.
Aristotle called rhetoric “a combination of the science of logic and of the ethical branch of politics” and defined it as “ the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” From Ancient Greece thousands of years ago to today, rhetoric has been the backbone of persuasive and motivational speaking.
The rhetorical triangle: ethos, pathos, and logos
In his writing on rhetoric, Aristotle defined the three distinct modes of persuasion that we still recognize and use:
Logos is language crafted to appeal to logic and reasoning. When you appeal to logos in an argument, you support your position with facts and data. Here is an example of an argument that appeals to logos:
- None of the kids were home when the cookie jar was raided, so the cookie thief couldn’t have been one of them.
Ethos is language whose credibility comes from its speaker’s reputation or authority. This authority can come from their credentials, like a doctor discussing the most effective means of preventing pathogen transmission, or from their position within a narrative or situation, like a car accident witness describing the collision they saw. In your writing, you might appeal to ethos like this:
- I started exercising twice per week because my doctor said it would help alleviate my pain.
Pathos is language that creates an emotional connection with the reader or listener. Pathos attempts to persuade, motivate, or inform the audience by making them empathize with the speaker. Here is an example of pathos:
- Please donate to the animal shelter. We’re desperately in need of funding to help our animals, and every dollar counts.
The rhetorical triangle is the graphical representation of the three modes of discourse as an equilateral triangle. By showing all three concepts as equally spaced-apart points, it demonstrates their equal importance to effective communication. This doesn’t mean every piece of effective communication uses all three—pathos has no place in a lab report, for example—but that all three are equally effective when used appropriately.
Rhetoric in types of writing like narrative writing and poetry often relies on linguistic tools like figurative language and well-known figures of speech. These tools are known as rhetorical devices. Through a rhetorical device, you can make your argument feel more pressing, make it stick in listeners’ and/or readers’ minds, enable them to empathize with you or your characters, and drive them to think differently about the issue you’re presenting.
There are lots of different rhetorical devices you can employ in your writing. Here are a few common ones:
Hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration meant to highlight the issue presented:
“I deal with thousands of angry customers every day.”
With hyperbole, both the speaker and the listener know it’s an exaggeration. The goal is to demonstrate how an issue compares to the norm or to other issues by positioning it as wildly outside the norm.
The reverse of hyperbole, meiosis emphasizes how far outside the norm an issue is through extreme understatement:
“Compared to others in the area, our school was empty.”
Epistrophe is the repetition of a word through successive phrases, clauses, or sentences for the purpose of emphasizing it as a concept. Typically, parallelism is employed to underscore this repetition and give the speech a poetic quality. Abraham Lincoln used epistrophe in this famous excerpt from the Gettysburg Address:
“. . . government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Metaphor is a type of figurative language that compares two topics by claiming that one literally is the other:
“My mother’s cooking is heaven on earth.”
Chiasmus is the repetition of a sentence with the word order switched around. Perhaps the most famous example of chiasmus comes from President John F. Kennedy:
- “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
Examples of rhetoric
As we mentioned above, the kind of rhetoric a writer uses largely depends on the type of writing they’re doing. While a student writing an argumentative essay or another kind of academic writing relies on logos to communicate their work’s message, poetry is pure pathos.
You’ve encountered rhetoric in a variety of media. If you’ve ever seen one of those SPCA commercials set to the song “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan, you’ve had rhetoric tug at your heartstrings.
Here are a few more examples of rhetoric in action:
“It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.” —Susan B. Anthony
“I am assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London; that a young healthy child, well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food; whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled, and I make no doubt, that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or ragout.” —Jonathan Swift
“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rhetoric is language used to motivate, inspire, inform, or persuade readers and/or listeners. Often, rhetoric uses figures of speech and other literary devices, which are known as rhetorical devices when used in this manner.
What is an example of rhetoric?
Here are two:
- “Is water wet?”
What are some rhetorical devices?
- Rhetorical questions
When your writing is strong, your rhetoric is stronger
Even if your arguments are impenetrable, you’ll have a hard time persuading your readers of anything if your writing is full of grammatical and punctuation mistakes. When it’s time to revise, Grammarly catches mistakes you might have missed and suggests ways to make your writing stronger.
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What Is a Rhetorical Question?
- 4th April 2023
Rhetorical questions can be an effective tool for writers and speakers to connect with their audience and convey their message more effectively. In this article, we’ll discuss rhetorical questions, how to use them, and some examples.
Definition of a Rhetorical Question
A rhetorical question is a question that isn’t meant to be answered. It’s asked to make a point or create an effect rather than to elicit an actual response. Here are a few examples:
· Are you kidding me? ‒ Used to express disbelief or shock
· Do you think I was born yesterday? ‒ Used to express suspicion or doubt
· Why not? – Used to express willingness to try something
How to Use a Rhetorical Question
Rhetorical questions are rhetorical devices often used in writing and speech to engage the audience, emphasize a point, or provoke thought. They can be used to introduce a topic, make a statement, or open an argument.
Conversational Rhetorical Questions
Rhetorical questions are used in everyday speech and conversations. For example:
· Who knows? ‒ Indicates that no one knows the answer
· Isn’t that the truth? ‒ Used to express agreement with something
Introducing a Topic
Rhetorical questions are a common strategy in essay writing to introduce a topic or persuade the reader . Here are some essay questions with rhetorical questions you could use to introduce the topic:
Essay Question: Why should we care about climate change?
Rhetorical Question Introduction: Would you like to live on a dying planet?
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Essay Question: Are dress codes a good idea for school?
Rhetorical Question Introduction: Wouldn’t you like the freedom to choose what you want to wear?
Famous Examples of Rhetorical Questions
Rhetorical questions are a powerful and effective device to use in speech and writing, which is why you can find countless examples, from past and present figures, using them. Here are a few examples:
Here, Obama is using rhetorical questions to emphasize a point to his audience about what type of nation America is. The questions demonstrate his stance on immigration in America.
Dr. King used a variety of literary devices in his writing and speeches to inspire and invoke change and action in his audience. Here, he poses the rhetorical question, “Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history?” to get his audience thinking. There’s no obvious answer here. He’s setting up his response to this seemingly unanswerable question.
Here, Sojourner Truth is speaking at the 1851 Women’s Convention to persuade the audience that women should have the right to vote like men. She’s emphasizing that she can do everything a man can do and more (childbirth), but she can’t vote like a man because she’s a woman.
Rhetorical questions are statements pretending to be a question. They’re not to be answered, as their answer should be obvious or there isn’t an obvious answer.
You can use rhetorical questions to emphasize a point, introduce a topic, or encourage your audience to think critically about an issue. If you’re looking to enhance your speaking or writing, check out our Literary Devices page to learn more.
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Rhetorical Question Examples and Definition
- DESCRIPTION Woman With Umbrella Walking Rain as Rhetorical Question Examples
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People ask rhetorical questions without expecting an answer, usually to make a point. Writers use rhetorical questions to persuade someone or for literary effect — usually to get an audience to agree to an easy or unanswerable question. There are two main types of rhetorical questions: questions whose answers are so obvious that there's no need to say them or questions without any answer at all.
Rhetorical Questions With Obvious Answers
Some rhetorical question examples are very obvious, either because they’re discussing commonly known facts or because the answer is suggested in context clues . These rhetorical questions, also called rhetorical affirmations, are often asked to emphasize a point.
- Is the pope Catholic?
- Is rain wet?
- Do you want to be a failure for the rest of your life?
- Does a bear poop in the woods?
- Can fish swim?
- Can birds fly?
- Do dogs bark?
- Do cats meow?
- Is hell hot?
- Is the sky blue?
- Is water wet?
- Don't you care about me?
Rhetorical Questions That Have No Answers
Some rhetorical questions don’t really have an answer, at least not a clear and concise one. Rather, they’re meant to start conversations, spur debate, prompt contemplation, or illustrate someone’s current state of mind. For example:
- Why is this happening to me?
- Are you kidding?
- Who could blame me?
- Who's to say?
- Who's counting?
- How should I know?
- Why bother?
Rhetorical Questions in Literature
Writers love to prompt further thinking and reflection. Rhetorical questions are a great way to achieve that. Leaving a question lingering in the air will allow the reader to spend further time in contemplation. Here are some examples from literature:
- "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” - " Ode to the West Wind " by Percy Bysshe Shelley
- “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" - The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
- "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore — And then run?" - " Harlem " by Langston Hughes
- "What’s Montague? It is nor hand nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O be some other name. What’s in a name?" - Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Rhetorical Questions in Famous Speeches
One of the best ways to include the audience in your speech is to ask a rhetorical question. It opens up the floor to them, without actually having to open up the floor and let everyone speak. It simply serves as an opportunity to pique their interest and then continue to emphasize your points. For example:
- "Can anyone look at the record of this Administration and say, 'Well done'? Can anyone compare the state of our economy when the Carter Administration took office with where we are today and say, 'Keep up the good work'? Can anyone look at our reduced standing in the world today say, 'Let's have four more years of this'?' - Ronald Reagan
- "Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?" - Sojourner Truth
- "Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents' arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?” - Barack Obama
When a Rhetorical Question Would be Asked
With all these what-if scenarios, you may be wondering when to ask a rhetorical question. Typically, they’re used in conversations where the speaker wants to drive an important point home. For example:
- Your girlfriend asks if you love her. You say "Is the pope Catholic?" to imply that it is as obvious you love her as it is that the leader of the Catholic Church is Catholic.
- A parent is arguing with a child about the importance of good grades. The parent says "Do you want to live here in the basement for the rest of your life?” hoping the child will realize that good grades lead to a better-paying job.
- Two men are having a disagreement in a bar. One says "Do you want me to punch you in the face?” The obvious answer to that is no.
- A woman tells her husband she is pregnant and shows him the pregnancy test. He says "Are you serious?” This emphasizes his surprise at the news.
- A child is asking for a very expensive toy. His parent says "Do you think that money just grows on trees?” This should make the child stop and think about how things are paid for.
Use Literary Devices to Stir Your Audience
The next time you’d like to push a point home or stir up an audience, consider opening or closing with a rhetorical question. It has the possibility to leave your opinions hanging in the air for further consideration. For more ways to heighten your writing, consider:
- Examples of Ambiguity in Language and Literature
- Examples of Rhetorical Devices: 25 Techniques to Recognize
- Examples of Hyperbole: What It Is and How to Use It
An Introduction to Rhetorical Questions
Is This a Rhetorical Question?
- An Introduction to Punctuation
- Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
- M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
- B.A., English, State University of New York
A rhetorical question is a question (such as "How could I be so stupid?") that's asked merely for effect with no answer expected. The answer may be obvious or immediately provided by the questioner. Also known as erotesis , erotema, interrogatio, questioner , and reversed polarity question (RPQ) .
A rhetorical question can be "an effective persuasive device, subtly influencing the kind of response one wants to get from an audience " (Edward P.J. Corbett). See Examples and Observations, below. They may also be used for dramatic or comedic effect, and may be combined with other figures of speech , such as puns or double entendres .
In English, rhetorical questions are commonly used in speech and in informal kinds of writing (such as advertisements). Rhetorical questions appear less frequently in academic discourse .
Pronunciation: ri-TOR-i-kal KWEST-shun
Types of Rhetorical Questions
- Anthypophora and Hypophora
Examples and Observations
- "Something [rhetorical] questions all have in common . . . is that they are not asked, and are not understood, as ordinary information-seeking questions, but as making some kind of claim , or assertion, an assertion of the opposite polarity to that of the question." (Irene Koshik, Beyond Rhetorical Questions . John Benjamins, 2005)
- " Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution? " (H. L. Mencken)
- "It did not occur to me to call a doctor, because I knew none, and although it did occur to me to call the desk and ask that the air conditioner be turned off, I never called, because I did not know how much to tip whoever might come— was anyone ever so young? " (Joan Didion, "Goodbye to All That." Slouching Towards Bethlehem , 1968)
- "The means are at hand to fulfill the age-old dream: poverty can be abolished. How long shall we ignore this under-developed nation in our midst ? How long shall we look the other way while our fellow human beings suffer? How long" (Michael Harrington, The Other America: Poverty in the United States , 1962)
- "Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery ? Is that a question for republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to understand?" ( Frederick Douglass , "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" July 5, 1852)
- "Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? If you prick us, do we not bleed, if you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? ( Shylock in William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice )
- "Can I ask a rhetorical question ? Well, can I?" (Ambrose Bierce)
- "Aren't you glad you use Dial? Don't you wish everybody did?" (1960s television advertisement for Dial soap)
- "To actually see inside your ear canal--it would be fascinating, wouldn't it?" (Letter from Sonus, a hearing-aid company, quoted in "Rhetorical Questions We'd Rather Not Answer." The New Yorker , March 24, 2003)
- "If practice makes perfect, and no one's perfect, then why practice?" (Billy Corgan)
- "Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do 'practice'?" ( George Carlin )
- "Am I alone in thinking it odd that a people ingenious enough to invent paper, gunpowder, kites, and any number of other useful objects, and who have a noble history extending back three thousand years, haven't yet worked out that a pair of knitting needles is no way to capture food?" (Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island . Doubleday, 1995)
- "The Indians [in the Oliver Stone movie The Doors ] serve the same function they did in Dances With Wolves : they make the far more highly paid white movie actors seem soulful and important and in touch with ancient truths. Do Indians enjoy being used this way, as spiritual elves or cosmic merit badges?" (Libby Gelman-Waxner [Paul Rudnick], "Sex, Drugs, and Extra-Strength Excedrin." If You Ask Me , 1994)
Rhetorical Questions in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar"
Rhetorical questions are those so worded that one and only one answer can be generally expected from the audience you are addressing. In this sense, they are like the unmentioned premises in abbreviated reasoning, which can go unmentioned because they can be taken for granted as generally acknowledged. "Thus, for example, Brutus asks the citizens of Rome: 'Who is here so base that would be a bondman?' adding at once: 'If any, speak, for him have I offended.' Again Brutus asks: 'Who is here so vile that will not love his country?' Let him also speak, 'for him I have offended.' Brutus dares to ask these rhetorical questions, knowing full well that no one will answer his rhetorical questions in the wrong way. "So, too, Marc Antony , after describing how Caesar's conquests filled Rome's coffers, asks: 'Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?' And after reminding the populace that Caesar thrice refused the crown that was offered him, Antony asks: 'Was this ambition?' Both are rhetorical questions to which one and only one answer can be expected." (Mortimer Adler, How to Speak How to Listen . Simon & Schuster, 1983)
Are Rhetorical Questions Persuasive?
"By arousing curiosity, rhetorical questions motivate people to try to answer the question that is posed. Consequently, people pay closer attention to information relevant to the rhetorical question. . . . "At this point, I think it is important to note that the fundamental problem in the study of rhetorical questions is the lack of focus on the persuasive effectiveness of different types of rhetorical questions. Clearly, an ironical rhetorical question is going to have a different effect on an audience than an agreement rhetorical question. Unfortunately, little research has been conducted on how different types of rhetorical questions operate in a persuasive context." (David R. Roskos-Ewoldsen, "What Is the Role of Rhetorical Questions in Persuasion?" Communication and Emotion: Essays in Honor of Dolf Zillmann , ed. by Jennings Bryant et al. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2003)
Punctuating Rhetorical Questions
"From time to time, people become dissatisfied with the broad application of the question mark and try to narrow it down, usually by proposing distinct marks for the different kinds of question. Rhetorical questions have attracted particular attention, as—not requiring any answer—they are so different in kind. An Elizabethan printer, Henry Denham, was an early advocate, proposing in the 1580s a reverse question mark (؟) for this function, which came to be called a percontation mark (from a Latin word meaning a questioning act). Easy enough to handwrite, some late 16th century authors did sporadically use it, such as Robert Herrick. . . . But printers were unimpressed, and the mark never became standard. However, it has received a new lease of life online . . .." (David Crystal, Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation . St. Martin's Press, 2015)
The Lighter Side of Rhetorical Questions
-Howard: We need to ask you a question. - Professor Crawley: Really? Let me ask you a question. What does an accomplished entomologist with a doctorate and twenty years of experience do when the university cuts all his funding? - Rajesh: Ask uncomfortable rhetorical questions to people? (Simon Helberg, Lewis Black, and Kunal Nayyar in "The Jiminy Conjecture." The Big Bang Theory , 2008) -Penny: Sheldon, have you any idea what time it is? - Sheldon: Of course I do. My watch is linked to the atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado. It's accurate to one-tenth of a second. But as I'm saying this, it occurs to me that you may have again been asking a rhetorical question . (Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons in "The Loobenfeld Decay." The Big Bang Theory , 2008) -Dr. Cameron: Why did you hire me? - Dr. House: Does it matter? - Dr. Cameron: Kind of hard to work for a guy who doesn't respect you. - Dr. House: Why? - Dr. Cameron: Is that rhetorical ? - Dr. House: No, it just seems that way because you can't think of an answer. ( House, M.D. ) "I forget, which day did God create all the fossils?" (An anti-creationism bumper sticker, cited by Jack Bowen in If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers . Random House, 2010) Grandma Simpson and Lisa are singing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" ("How many roads must a man walk down/Before you call him a man?"). Homer overhears and says, "Eight!" -Lisa: "That was a rhetorical question !" -Homer: "Oh. Then, seven!" -Lisa: "Do you even know what 'rhetorical' means?" -Homer: "Do I know what 'rhetorical' means?" ( The Simpsons , "When Grandma Simpson Returns")
- What Is a Rhetorical Question? Definition and Examples
- Question Mark Definition and Examples
- Homer Simpson's Figures of Speech
- Anthypophora and Rhetoric
- An Introduction to Declarative Questions
- Direct Question in Grammar
- epimone (rhetoric)
- Definition and Examples of Sarcasm
- Rhetorical Questions for English Learners
- Pathos in Rhetoric
- Socratic Dialogue (Argumentation)
- Paralepsis (Rhetoric)
- Indirect Question: Definition and Examples
- Interrobang (Punctuation)
- Inexpressibility (Rhetoric)
- Writing Prompt (Composition)
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What is a rhetorical question?
Rhetorical questions are questions that do not expect an answer..
A rhetorical question is a question asked to make a point, rather than get an answer.
If you have ever been late, someone might say: 'What time do you call this?' This person doesn't want an answer to the question. They are making the point that you have arrived at an unacceptable time.
Writing to persuade
Rhetorical questions are a useful technique in persuasive writing. As there is nobody to answer the question, a rhetorical question is usually designed to speak directly to the reader. It allows the reader a moment to pause and think about the question. For that reason, they are effective in hooking a reader’s interest and making them think about their own response to the question in hand.
- 'Who wouldn't want to be a millionaire?'
- ‘Do we really want our planet to survive?’
- 'Wouldn’t you feel happier if you could wear what you wanted to school?'
Romeo and juliet.
In Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet , a young couple fall in love but are forced apart by their rival families: the Montagues and the Capulets. Juliet makes a point that a person's name should not define them:
'What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'
When Juliet asks the question ( 'What's in a name?' ) she does not expect an answer. This emphasises her point that names are meaningless. A rose being called a rose does not define how good it smells in the same way that people are not defined by their names or their family.
The Merchant of Venice
Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice looks at the divide between the Jewish and Christian faiths. In the following quote, rhetorical questions are used to highlight that all humans are the same regardless of their religion:
'If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh?'
The answers to these questions are obvious: everyone bleeds if they are cut and most people laugh if they are tickled.
The rhetorical questions are not designed to be answered instead they emphasise the idea that all humans are created equal.
Understanding, analysing and evaluating
What is repetition.
What are full stops and commas?
What are question and exclamation marks?
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Rhetorical questions have a tendency to be written by students who are struggling to come to terms with an essay question. They’re well below word count and need to find an extra 15, 20, or 30 words here and there to hit that much-needed word count. In order to do this, they fill space with rhetorical questions.
A rhetorical question is an inquiry that ends in a question mark but is asked for effect rather than to elicit an answer. It’s often used in persuasive writing but is also common in everyday conversation. Depending on the context of the rhetorical question, its purpose may be to emphasize a point, prompt the audience to consider a topic, or ...
While rhetorical questions are effective literary devices, you should know when using a rhetorical question is worthwhile and if it adds value to the piece of writing. If you are struggling with rhetorical questions and are wondering how to …
Using rhetorical questions in academic papers is okay, but you should never overuse them. The number of rhetorical questions in your essay should never exceed two, and more than two rhetorical questions are just too many for an essay. 2. Using them in research papers.
There are three types of rhetorical appeals, or persuasive strategies, used in arguments to support claims and respond to opposing arguments. A good argument will generally use a combination of all three appeals to make its case. Logos Logos or the appeal to reason relies on logic or reason.
Rhetorical Questions Add Unnecessary Words to an Essay 1. Rhetorical Questions Add Unnecessary Words to an Essay You don’t have much writing real estate when writing an essay. 2. Rhetorical Questions Introduce Redundancy You might think for the moment that rhetorical questions are good for... 3. ...
A rhetorical question is a statement formed as a question. Rhetorical questions can be manipulative because they are designed to appear objective and open-ended, but may actually lead the reader to a foregone conclusion. The rhetorical question takes several forms: It may answer itself and require no response.
Rhetorical questions should not be used in essays because they do not add depth or insight to your topic. It can also be boring for the reader, especially if using too many rhetorical questions. Generally, they are not allowed in academic writings
A rhetorical question is a question asked not as a genuine inquiry but rather to suggest something or to make a point. An example of such a question is: Who could disagree with the statement that our political system is effective?
The rhetorical analysis essay topic should be engaging to grab the reader’s attention. Thoroughly read the original text. Identify the SOAPSTone. From the text, determine the speaker, occasions, audience, purpose, subject, and tone. Develop a thesis statement to state your claim over the text. Draft a rhetorical analysis essay outline.
The use of a rhetorical questions is mostly to encourage the listener to think about what the obvious answer to the question must be. Rhetorical questions can therefore be used as a device by the speaker to assert or deny something. Types of rhetorical questions include: Metaphors and Negative assertions. General Rhetorical Questions
Rhetorical analysis isn’t a matter of choosing concepts in advance and applying them to a text. Instead, it starts with looking at the text in detail and asking the appropriate questions about how it works: What is the author’s purpose? Do they focus closely on their key claims, or do they discuss various topics?
Do not use rhetorical questions. Often writers use rhetorical questions as a device to lead to an explanation. This is a bad idea in research papers because the implication is that you will answer the questions that you ask with the research, even if they are rhetorical. Avoid ad homonym comments.
The most important reason why rhetorical questions are used in essays is that they serve as the best hooks to grab the attention of the reader. The reader can give a prediction of where you are headed in the essay. Example: What is the world without feminists? Rhetorical questions can be used to bring about a smooth transition in an …
To get started answering such questions, you should thoughtfully consider both the rhetorical situation and the three rhetorical appeals, which are described below. Each of these fundamental rhetorical concepts should guide and inform any rhetorical analysis, in addition to shaping your own writing.
A rhetorical question is a question that’s often asked to a broad audience in an effort to get the audience thinking seriously about the question and its implications. The speaker or writer doesn’t typically expect answers to the question; their goal is to facilitate a discussion.
Rhetorical questions are statements pretending to be a question. They’re not to be answered, as their answer should be obvious or there isn’t an obvious answer. You can use rhetorical questions to emphasize a point, introduce a topic, or encourage your audience to think critically about an issue.
In rhetorical tag questions, a simple question is added. You can write rhetorical questions to say the obvious, the opposite, or ask questions to get your audience to react or think.
Rhetorical questions offer the reader an option to disagree. Doesn't matter how good of a writer you are. Doesn't matter the level of evidence you use or how effective your argument becomes. Asking the reader to openly question something allows room for doubt. Expository is about simply establishing facts without bias.
Some rhetorical questions don’t really have an answer, at least not a clear and concise one. Rather, they’re meant to start conversations, spur debate, prompt contemplation, or illustrate someone’s current state of mind. For example: Who knows? Why not? Why is this happening to me? Are you kidding? Who could blame me? Who's to …
A rhetorical question is a question (such as "How could I be so stupid?") that's asked merely for effect with no answer expected. The answer may be obvious or immediately provided by the questioner. Also known as erotesis, erotema, interrogatio, questioner, and reversed polarity question (RPQ) .
Rhetorical questions are a useful technique in persuasive writing. As there is nobody to answer the question, a rhetorical question is usually designed to speak directly to the reader....
Essay writers often use rhetorical questions to engage readers, or ask them to look at a familiar issue in a different way. Essay titles are sometimes a rhetorical question in themselves. For example: