• 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“.

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