22 Ethos, Pathos, & Logos

Using Rhetorical Appeals to Support Your Argument

In addition to choosing an effective rhetorical mode (see Rhetorical Modes for Paragraphs & Essays for details) for an essay, you need to think about the most effective rhetorical appeal, or way of persuading your audience.

Writers are generally most successful with their audiences when they can skillfully and appropriately balance the three core types of rhetorical appeals. These appeals are referred to by their Greek names: ethos, pathos, and logos.


Graphic. Central green circle reads "Persuasion." Three circles connect out from it: at the top, a purple one reads "Ethos / trust / authority." Bottom right, in blue, "Pathos / emotion / beliefs." Bottom left, in turquoise, "Logos / logic / reasoning."

Authoritative Appeals = Ethos

Authors using authority to support their claims can use a variety of techniques. These include the following:

  • personal anecdotes
  • proof of deep knowledge on the issue
  • citation of recognized experts on the issue
  • testimony of those involved first-hand on the issue

Emotional Appeals = Pathos

Authors using emotion to support their claims also have many options to do so. These include the following:

  • personal anecdotes
  • narratives
  • impact studies
  • testimony of those involved first-hand on the issue

Logical Appeals = Logos

Authors using logic to support their claims can incorporate a combination of different types of evidence. These include the following:

  • established facts
  • case studies
  • statistics
  • experiments
  • analogies and logical reasoning
  • citation of recognized experts on the issue

As you can see, there is some overlap on these lists. One type of support may work in two or three different ways.

Many authors rely on one of the three as the primary method of support, but they may also draw upon one or two others at the same time. Consider your audience, purpose, and context to determine the best appeal(s) to use in your writing.


Activity A ~ Recognizing Rhetorical Appeals

Examine an article that you are reading for your research. Can you find examples of ethos, pathos, and/or logos? Discuss with a partner.

Watch “Nissan LeafTM: Polar Bear” by clicking below (also found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdYWSsUarOg#action=share)


What appeal(s) did the authors of this video use?

Can you find other short videos which show rhetorical appeals?

Activity B ~ Choosing Rhetorical Appeals

A. Check in with your partners: What’s the difference between rhetorical modes and rhetorical appeals?

B. Discuss the following topics with your partners, as we did in our chapter on rhetorical modes (patterns of organization). This time, think about which appeal(s) would be most effective for an essay about each topic. Why?

  1. Gender roles
  2. Race in America
  3. The value of art in society
  4. Travel as part of a well-rounded education
  5. Drugs and alcohol
  6. Advice to new parents
  7. Advice to teachers
  8. The value of making mistakes
  9. How you’d spend a million dollars
  10. What a tough day at work taught you about yourself or others

C. Consider the essay you are working on now. What rhetorical appeals would be most effective for your audience? Why? Discuss with your writing partners.

This chapter was modified from “Logos, Ethos, Pathos” from Developmental English: Introduction to College Composition under a CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Image of Persuasion. Authored by: Mrs. Adcock. Located athttps://agi241classes.wikispaces.com/Fifth+GradeProject: Computer Class AGI241. LicenseCC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike

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ENGLISH 087: Academic Advanced Writing Copyright © 2020 by Nancy Hutchison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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