American Literature

Rhetoric Used in Argumentative/Persuasive Writing

Directions: Write the definition for each of the six different types of rhetoric found in advertising.


1. emotional appeal – an activity aimed at provoking a certain emotion

2. repetition – repeating words or phrases

3. bandwagon – using a technique that indicates the product or idea is popular and everyone is getting on board

4. testimonial – recommendation from a celebrity or a satisfied customer

5. rhetorical question – a question asked to make the reader think

6. humor – using something funny in order to grab the attention of the audience

Directions: Read the information on Aristotle's Rhetoric Triangle and take notes.

A General Summary of Aristotle's Appeals . . .

The goal of argumentative writing is to persuade your audience that your ideas are valid, or more valid than someone else's. The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided the means of persuasion, appeals, into three categories--Ethos, Pathos, Logos.

Ethos (Credibility), or ethical appeal, means convincing by the character of the author. We tend to believe people whom we respect. One of the central problems of argumentation is to project an impression to the reader that you are someone worth listening to, in other words making yourself as author into an authority on the subject of the paper, as well as someone who is likable and worthy of respect.

Pathos (Emotional) means persuading by appealing to the reader's emotions. We can look at texts ranging from classic essays to contemporary advertisements to see how pathos, emotional appeals, are used to persuade. Language choice affects the audience's emotional response, and emotional appeal can effectively be used to enhance an argument.

Logos (Logical) means persuading by the use of reasoning. This will be the most important technique we will study, and Aristotle's favorite. We'll look at deductive and inductive reasoning, and discuss what makes an effective, persuasive reason to back up your claims. Giving reasons is the heart of argumentation, and cannot be emphasized enough. We'll study the types of support you can use to substantiate your thesis, and look at some of the common logical fallacies, in order to avoid them in your writing.

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Directions: After being assigned a group, you will locate an advertisement which uses your assigned rhetorical device. Be prepared to share with the class.

Group 1. bandwagon
Group 2. repetition
Group 3. testimonial
Group 4. emotional appeal
Group 5. humor
Group 6. rhetorical question