Persuasive language and rhetorical devices

Persuasive language and rhetorical devices

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Persuasive language and rhetorical devices

In a nutshell

Rhetorical devices are the use of language techniques to make a piece of writing more persuasive. In this summary, you will learn about the different types of rhetorical devices and how to use them effectively.

Persuasive language

Persuasive language is used in many ways and for a variety of reasons. Persuasive language is used to advertise and sell products, or to convince people to accept a view or agree with a new idea. Politicians are great examples of people who use rhetorical devices and persuasive language often in their speeches.

Rhetorical devices

The following table presents the most common rhetorical devices.




Rhetorical questions
Rhetorical questions are questions that make the reader stop and think but do not need an answer. They are great for grabbing your reader's attention and can be very effective when trying to persuade them.
"Don't you think it's important that we give a sad, lonely dog the warm, loving home that it deserves?"
Emotive language
Use words that make your reader have strong feelings, such as guilt or empathy, about the topic you are addressing.
"There are thousands of fish and other sea life that are at the mercy of the waste crisis. There is a baby turtle somewhere right now with a plastic straw stuck up its nose because people refuse to dispose of their rubbish sensibly."
Hyperbole is a form of exaggeration. Exaggeration is an important trick for persuasive writing. By emphasising some of your points using hyperbole, you can make your argument sound more convincing and really solidify your point of view in the minds of the audience.
"You should adopt a dog for many reasons. But one of the most important reasons is that most of the dogs in shelters cry themselves to sleep every night, as they long for the love of a new owner that may never come."
Imperative language
Imperative language is language used to give an order or prompt someone to do something.
"Don't forget to separate your rubbish into general waste and recyclable items."
Facts and statistics
These are very strong pieces of evidence that you can use to support your point.
"85% of people agreed that this would change our community for the better."
Flattery is used to compliment your audience.
"I am privileged to be speaking to a group of such intelligent people."
Personal pronouns
Address your audience directly by using second person pronouns 'you', 'your' and 'yours'. Using these words can make your audience feel special. You can also involve your audience by using "we" - this can make it seem like they are on your side which may make them more likely to agree with you.
"Dad, we all know much happier our home is when we dog-sit Nanny Pat's dog. That could be us everyday!"
An anecdote is a short, personal, story about a real life situation that you can share to make your audience feel they know you.
"Everyone should have a dog. My dog has been my best friend since I was nine. He keeps me company, he listens when I have a lot on my mind and need someone to talk to, and he is very good at fetch!"
The rule of three
This is usually three phrases or describing words that are used to emphasise a point.
"Reducing the speed limit to 20 on all of the roads in our town will mean safer streets. Safer streets mean reassurance, peace of mind and comfort for all."

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

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