• Rhetoric essentially means the art of speaking persuasively.
  • It is the use of language in a formalized way in order to convince or have an effect on an audience.

A) Word order

  • Manipulation of common word order to create an effect

B) Word choice

  • Figurative language (oxymoron, onomatopoeia, assonance, alliteration, hyperbole, understatement, irony, allusion, litotes, pun)
  • Jargon, slang, dialect, colloquial, concrete
  • Word complexity and abstraction

Sentence structure

  • Sentence type (simple, compound, complex, compound-complex)
  • Sentence design (loose, periodic, balanced, allowable fragments)
  • Use of semi-colon, appositives, colons, dashes
  • Order (natural, inverted, split)
  • Type (assertive, interrogatory, imperative, exclamatory)

Rhetorical Conventions

  • Similarity
  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Emphasis
  • Addressing the Audience
  • Expressing Similarity
  • Onomatopoeia – is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. Ex. Oink, meow
  • Allegory – a story with two meanings (literal and symbolic) Ex.  if a story uses animals to represent symbolic concepts.
  • Personification – a description of an object as being a living person or animal as in: “The sun shone brightly down on me as if she were shining for me alone”.


  • Oxymoron – is a figure of speech that combines normally-contradictory terms.  Ex. failed success, dark sunshine.
  • (Antithesis – is direct opposite: the complete or exact opposite of something.  Ex. bitter-sweet, ebony, and ivory.)


  • Alliteration – When two or more words in a poem begin with the same letter or sound. Ex. Dressy Daffodils.
  • Consonance – Refers to the repetition of consonant sounds at the end of words in a line, not vowels Ex. Lady Lounges Lazily.
  • Assonance – Refers to vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences. Ex. Do you like blue?


  • Overstatement – An exaggerated statement. Ex. “I’d give my right arm for a piece of pizza.”
  • Understatement – is a form of speech that contains an expression of less strength than would be expected.    Ex. “It’s just a flesh wound.”
    (Black Knight, after having both arms cut off)

Ways of Addressing the Audience

  • Rhetorical question – is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply.  Ex. “Why me?”
  • Apostrophe – directly addressing an absent person, abstract idea, or nonhuman object, often with the exclamation “O” or “Oh“.
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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