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10 Pathos Examples

pathos example and definition, explained below

Pathos is a rhetorical device that stirs emotions such as pity, sadness, or sympathy in the audience.

Pathos refers to one corner of the rhetorical triangle, which means that it is one of the three main technical means of persuasion .

Aristotle claims that there are three technical means of persuasion:

“Now the proofs furnished by the speech are of three kinds. The first depends upon the moral character of the speaker, the second upon putting the hearer into a certain frame of mind, the third upon the speech itself, in so far as it proves or seems to prove” (Aristotle, Rhetoric, ca. 367-322 B.C.E./1926, Book 1, Chapter 2, Section 3).

Each of these corresponds to the three means of persuasion: 

  • Ethos (Appeal to credibility) : Persuasion through establishing the character of the speaker.
  • Pathos ( Appeal to emotion ): Persuasion through putting the hearer into a certain frame of mind.
  • Logos (Appeal to logic) : Persuasion through proof or seeming proof.

For Aristotle, speech consists of three things: the speaker, the hearer, and the speech. These correspond to ethos, pathos, and logos , respectively. Pathos is the means of persuasion that is concerned with the audience and it is the subject of this article. 


Pathos Definition

Pathos refers to appeals to the emotions of the audience. Whenever the audience is led to feel a certain way, and that feeling influences their judgment of a speech, the speaker is using pathos.

Aristotle’s underlying assumption is that people’s emotional states influence their evaluations, which is quite reasonable to suppose.

The rhetorical method, therefore, requires one to sway the emotional states of the hearers:

“… for the judgements we deliver are not the same when we are influenced by joy or sorrow, love or hate” (Aristotle, Rhetoric, ca. 367-322 B.C.E./1926, Book 1, Chapter 2, Section 5). 

You can appeal to people’s emotions in many ways: through storytelling hooks, passionate speech, personal anecdotes , and so on.

In some sense, most pieces of writing and most speeches that have an agenda to persuade necessarily have some forms of pathos built into them. For example, even a math textbook may give rise to feelings of awe. 

Pathos probably has the worst reputation out of the three technical means of persuasion because people believe that all appeals to emotion are somehow dishonest or manipulative, but this is not so.

There is simply no getting away from elements of pathos, no matter how hard the persuader tries.

Furthermore, the use of pathos to persuade can be just as honest and harmless as the most seemingly objective uses of logos or ethos. 

Pathos Examples

Example 1: advertising.

Pathos is an especially common persuasion tool in advertising. Since emotions influence people’s decision-making, pathos is well-suited to the task of persuading customers to buy products (Ho & Siu, 2012). 

For example, advertising is to appeal to empathy, which would be part of pathos. Animal welfare organizations like the SPCA, for instance, may appeal to people’s empathy by using pictures of stray dogs accompanied by sad music.

In this context, the power of pathos can be leveraged to not only promote immediate action, such as a donation, but also to build long-term brand associations and loyalty, embedding a sense of empathy and compassion in the perception of the organization’s mission.

Example 2: Art

Most forms of art use pathos in some form. This is more apparent in art that has a clear agenda, for example, political cartoons.

In political cartoons, the application of pathos is often used to generate empathy or outrage, thus persuading viewers to consider the artist’s perspective on social or political issues.

Similarly, in paintings, sculptures, or installation art, artists often use symbolic imagery, dramatic contrasts, and evocative themes to arouse feelings of sorrow, compassion, or introspection .

Example 3: In the ad hominem Argument

Arguments that commit the ad hominem fallacy tend to be persuasive because of pathos.

The ad hominem fallacy involves attacking the arguer’s personal situation or traits (Hansen, 2020). There are three commonly recognized kinds of ad hominem: (1) the abusive ad hominem, (2) the circumstantial ad hominem, and (3) the tu quoque. 

The first kind involves arguing that someone’s view should not be accepted because they have some negative property. For example: “Alice’s view that breaking promises is immoral should be rejected because Alice is rude.”

The second kind involves arguing that someone’s view should not be accepted because their view is supported by self-interest. For example: “Bob’s recommendation to exercise regularly should be rejected because Bob owns a gym.”

The tu quoque involves arguing that someone’s view should not be accepted because their actions are inconsistent with that view. For example: “Clarence’s view that people should not drive cars should not be accepted because Clarence drives a car.”

Example 4: In the Slippery Slope Argument

Another form of persuasive but fallacious argument is the slippery slope. It is a fallacy that occurs when one unjustifiably assumes that a small step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect.

Such arguments may sometimes be reasonable, but they are not deductively correct.

Moreover, they usually rely on generating fear on the part of the audience. Alfred Sidgwick described slippery slope arguments in the following way:

“We must not do this or that, it is often said, because if we did we should be logically bound to do something else which is plainly absurd or wrong. If we once begin to take a certain course there is no knowing where we shall be able to stop within any show of consistency; there would be no reason for stopping anywhere in particular, and we should be led on, step by step into action or opinions that we all agree to call undesirable or untrue.” (Sidgwick, 1910, p. 40)

Example 5: In Music

The use of emotional music in a piece of media the purpose of which is to persuade is an example of pathos.

Such music can intensify the emotional impact of, for example, an advertisement and thereby make it more persuasive.

Since logic is rarely used to advertise products, pathos is often the most important means of persuasion in such cases. 

Example 6: In Political Rhetoric

Word choice in political speech is particularly important for the effective use of pathos.

For example, the conflicting uses of terms like “unborn life” and ”fetus” in women’s reproductive rights debates appeal to people’s emotions in different ways.

Whereas one side would appeal to the emotion of saving life, the other would appeal to the emotion of freedom and bodily autonomy.

It is virtually impossible for an effective political speech not to contain pathos, especially in democratic contexts. How skillfully a politician appeals to the emotions of the voters will, to a large extent, determine the success of their campaign.  

Example 7: In Social Media Campaigns

Pathos is frequently utilized in social media campaigns, often leveraging user-generated content to create a sense of empathy or community around a product or cause.

User stories that feature personal triumphs, challenges overcome, or emotional experiences related to the product or cause in question are designed to invoke emotional responses that foster brand loyalty or advocacy.

The use of pathos in social media campaigns often involves images, videos, and narratives that are likely to resonate emotionally with the target audience, effectively fostering a deeper connection to the brand or cause, and enhancing audience engagement and interaction.

Example 8: In Public Health Campaigns

Pathos is also evident in public health campaigns. For instance, anti-drinking ads often show the severe health effects of drinking, such as patients unable to play with their children due to health issues.

These campaigns are intended to evoke fear or concern, stimulating the public to change their behavior and adopt healthier habits.

By emphasizing the grave consequences and personal costs of unhealthy choices, public health campaigns that use pathos aim to foster a more emotional and personal connection to health issues, making the audience more likely to take preventive actions or change unhealthy habits.

Example 9: In Philanthropy and Fundraising

Pathos is used extensively in philanthropy and fundraising, with organizations sharing stories of individuals or communities in need to evoke empathy and provoke action.

Charitable campaigns that depict the harsh realities of poverty, disease, or disaster aim to stir feelings of compassion, guilt, or responsibility, encouraging donations and aid.

Through the strategic use of pathos, philanthropy and fundraising campaigns can make the plight of those in need feel more immediate and tangible, thereby increasing the likelihood of donations and encouraging more active involvement in the cause or issue at hand.

Example 10: In Literature

In literature, authors often use pathos to create an emotional connection between readers and characters or situations.

This might involve crafting narratives around heart-wrenching tragedies, touching moments, or stirring triumphs to make the readers feel a range of emotions, thereby enhancing their engagement and investment in the storyline.

By evoking deep emotional responses through the use of pathos, authors can make the characters and situations in their works more relatable and real, intensifying readers’ engagement and creating a lasting impact that goes beyond mere enjoyment of the story.

Strengths of Pathos

  • Memorability: Appeals to emotion tend to stick. While you’re unlikely to remember the speaker’s logical reasoning or their credentials perfectly, you probably will remember how the speech made you feel.
  • Decision-making : appeals to pathos typically affect the actions of the audience more than appeals to ethos or logos.
  • Subjective topics: similar to ethos, pathos is an especially powerful persuasion technique in matters that don’t rely on objective criteria. In such a case, logical arguments alone won’t be enough. For example, the orator will make greater use of pathos when speaking about a work of art than when debating the merits of a mathematical proof.

Weaknesses of Pathos

  • Manipulation: The use of pathos can be morally questionable since it can exploit people’s emotional vulnerabilities. 
  • Insincerity: It is easy for the audience to perceive the speaker’s appeals to pathos as insincere. Some people view all appeals to emotion as attempts to mask or modify the truth, so the orator must know their audience before resorting to pathos.  

The term pathos comes from the Greek word for “experience” or “suffering.” In the context of rhetoric, it refers to appeals to the emotions of the audience. 

See Also: The 5 Types of Rhetorical Situations

Aristotle. (1926). Rhetoric. In Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vol. 22, translated by J. H. Freese. Harvard University Press. (Original work published ca. 367-322 B.C.E.) 

Hansen, H. (2020). Fallacies. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2020). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.

Ho, A. G., & Siu, K. W. M. G. (2012). Emotion Design, Emotional Design, Emotionalize Design: A Review on Their Relationships from a New Perspective. The Design Journal, 15(1), 9–32.

Rapp, C. (2022). Aristotle’s Rhetoric. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2022). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.

Sidgwick, A. (1910). The application of logic. London : Macmillan and Co., limited.


Tio Gabunia (B.Arch, M.Arch)

Tio Gabunia is an academic writer and architect based in Tbilisi. He has studied architecture, design, and urban planning at the Georgian Technical University and the University of Lisbon. He has worked in these fields in Georgia, Portugal, and France. Most of Tio’s writings concern philosophy. Other writings include architecture, sociology, urban planning, and economics.

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What Are Logos, Pathos & Ethos?

A straight-forward explainer (with examples)

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewer: Eunice Rautenbach (DTech) | June 2023

If you spend any amount of time exploring the wonderful world of philosophy, you’re bound to run into the dynamic trio of rhetorical appeals: logos , ethos and pathos . But, what exactly do they mean and how can you use them in your writing or speaking? In this post, we’ll unpack the rhetorical love triangle in simple terms, using loads of practical examples along the way.

Overview: The Rhetorical Triangle

  • What are logos , pathos and ethos ?
  • Logos unpacked (+ examples)
  • Pathos unpacked (+ examples)
  • Ethos unpacked (+ examples)
  • The rhetorical triangle

What are logos, ethos and pathos?

Simply put, logos, ethos and pathos are three powerful tools that you can use to persuade an audience of your argument . At the most basic level, logos appeals to logic and reason, while pathos appeals to emotions and ethos emphasises credibility or authority.

Naturally, a combination of all three rhetorical appeals packs the biggest punch, but it’s important to consider a few different factors to determine the best mix for any given context. Let’s look at each rhetorical appeal in a little more detail to understand how best to use them to your advantage.

Logos appeals to logic and reason, pathos appeals to emotions and ethos emphasises credibility and/or authority.

Logos appeals to the logical, reason-driven side of our minds. Using logos in an argument typically means presenting a strong body of evidence and   facts to support your position. This evidence should then be accompanied by sound logic and well-articulated reasoning .

Let’s look at some examples of logos in action:

  • A friend trying to persuade you to eat healthier might present scientific studies that show the benefits of a balanced diet and explain how certain nutrients contribute to overall health and longevity.
  • A scientist giving a presentation on climate change might use data from reputable studies, along with well-presented graphs and statistical analyses to demonstrate the rising global temperatures and their impact on the environment.
  • An advertisement for a new smartphone might highlight its technological features, such as a faster processor, longer battery life, and a high-resolution camera. This could also be accompanied by technical specifications and comparisons with competitors’ models.

In short, logos is all about using evidence , logic and reason to build a strong argument that will win over an audience on the basis of its objective merit . This contrasts quite sharply against pathos, which we’ll look at next.

Leveraging logos involves presenting a strong body of evidence, accompanied by sound logic and well-articulated reasoning.

Contrasted to logos, pathos appeals to the softer side of us mushy humans. Specifically, it focuses on evoking feelings and emotions in the audience. When utilising pathos in an argument, the aim is to cultivate some feeling of connection in the audience toward either yourself or the point that you’re trying to make.

In practical terms, pathos often uses storytelling , vivid language and personal anecdotes to tap into the audience’s emotions. Unlike logos, the focus here is not on facts and figures, but rather on psychological affect . Simply put, pathos utilises our shared humanness to foster agreement.

Let’s look at some examples of pathos in action:

  • An advertisement for a charity might incorporate images of starving children and highlight their desperate living conditions to evoke sympathy, compassion and, ultimately, donations.
  • A politician on the campaign trail might appeal to feelings of hope, unity, and patriotism to rally supporters and motivate them to vote for his or her party.
  • A fundraising event may include a heartfelt personal story shared by a cancer survivor, with the aim of evoking empathy and encouraging donations to support cancer research.

As you can see, pathos is all about appealing to the human side of us – playing on our emotions to create buy-in and agreement.

Pathos appeals to the softer side of us humans, as it focuses on evoking strong feelings and emotions in the audience.

Last but not least, we’ve got ethos. Ethos is all about emphasising the credibility and authority of the person making the argument, or leveraging off of someone else’s credibility to support your own argument.

The ethos card can be played by highlighting expertise, achievements, qualifications and accreditations , or even personal and professional associations and connections. Ultimately, the aim here is to foster some level of trust within the audience by demonstrating your competence, as this will make them more likely to take your word as fact.

Let’s look at some examples of ethos in action:

  • A fitness equipment brand might hire a well-known athlete to endorse their product.
  • A toothpaste brand might make claims highlighting that a large percentage of dentists recommend their product.
  • A financial advisor might present their qualifications, certifications and professional memberships when meeting with a prospective client.

As you can see, using ethos in an argument is largely about emphasising the credibility of the person rather than the logical soundness of the argument itself (which would reflect a logos-based approach). This is particularly helpful when there isn’t a large body of evidence to support the argument.

Ethos can also overlap somewhat with pathos in that positive emotions and feelings toward a specific person can oftentimes be extended to someone else’s argument. For example, a brand that has nothing to do with sports could still benefit from the endorsement of a well-loved athlete, just because people feel positive feelings about the athlete – not because of that athlete’s expertise  in the product they’re endorsing.

Ethos emphasises the credibility or authority of the person making the argument, rather than the credibility of the argument itself.

How to use logos, pathos and ethos

Logos, pathos and ethos combine to form the rhetorical triangle , also known as the Aristotelian triangle. As you’d expect, the three sides (or corners) of the triangle reflect the three appeals, but there’s also another layer of meaning. Specifically, the three sides symbolise the relationship between the speaker , the audience and the message .

Logos, ethos and pathos: the rhetorical triangle

Without getting too philosophical, the key takeaway here is that logos, pathos and ethos are all tools that you can use to present a persuasive argument . However, how much you use each tool needs to be informed by careful consideration of who your audience is and what message you’re trying to convey to them.

For example, if you’re writing a research paper for a largely scientific audience, you’ll likely lean more heavily on the logos . Conversely, if you’re presenting a speech in which you argue for greater social justice, you may lean more heavily on the pathos to win over the hearts and minds of your audience.

Simply put, by understanding the relationship between yourself (as the person making the argument), your audience , and your message , you can strategically employ the three rhetorical appeals to persuade, engage, and connect with your audience more effectively in any context. Use these tools wisely and you’ll quickly notice what a difference they can make to your ability to communicate and more importantly, to persuade .

pathos in argumentative essay examples

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pathos in argumentative essay examples

Pathos Definition

What is pathos? Here’s a quick and simple definition:

Pathos , along with logos and ethos , is one of the three "modes of persuasion" in rhetoric (the art of effective speaking or writing). Pathos is an argument that appeals to an audience's emotions. When a speaker tells a personal story, presents an audience with a powerful visual image, or appeals to an audience's sense of duty or purpose in order to influence listeners' emotions in favor of adopting the speaker's point of view, he or she is using pathos .

Some additional key details about pathos:

  • You may also hear the word "pathos" used to mean "a quality that invokes sadness or pity," as in the statement, "The actor's performance was full of pathos." However, this guide focuses specifically on the rhetorical technique of pathos used in literature and public speaking to persuade readers and listeners through an appeal to emotion.
  • The three "modes of persuasion"— pathos , logos , and ethos —were originally defined by Aristotle.
  • In contrast to pathos, which appeals to the listener's emotions, logos appeals to the audience's sense of reason, while ethos appeals to the audience based on the speaker's authority.
  • Although Aristotle developed the concept of pathos in the context of oratory and speechmaking, authors, poets, and advertisers also use pathos frequently.

Pathos Pronunciation

Here's how to pronounce pathos : pay -thos

Pathos in Depth

Aristotle (the ancient Greek philosopher and scientist) first defined pathos , along with logos and ethos , in his treatise on rhetoric, Ars Rhetorica. Together, he referred to pathos , logos , and ethos as the three modes of persuasion, or sometimes simply as "the appeals." Aristotle defined pathos as "putting the audience in a certain frame of mind," and argued that to achieve this task a speaker must truly know and understand his or her audience. For instance, in Ars Rhetorica, Aristotle describes the information a speaker needs to rile up a feeling of anger in his or her audience:

Take, for instance, the emotion of anger: here we must discover (1) what the state of mind of angry people is, (2) who the people are with whom they usually get angry, and (3) on what grounds they get angry with them. It is not enough to know one or even two of these points; unless we know all three, we shall be unable to arouse anger in any one.

Here, Aristotle articulates that it's not enough to know the dominant emotions that move one's listeners: you also need to have a deeper understanding of the listeners' values, and how these values motivate their emotional responses to specific individuals and behaviors.

Pathos vs Logos and Ethos

Pathos is often criticized as being the least substantial or legitimate of the three persuasive modest. Arguments using logos appeal to listeners' sense of reason through the presentation of facts and a well-structured argument. Meanwhile, arguments using ethos generally try to achieve credibility by relying on the speaker's credentials and reputation. Therefore, both logos and ethos may seem more concrete—in the sense of being more evidence-based—than pathos, which "merely" appeals to listeners' emotions. But people often forget that facts, statistics, credentials, and personal history can be easily manipulated or fabricated in order to win the confidence of an audience, while people at the same time underestimate the power and importance of being able to expertly direct the emotional current of an audience to win their allegiance or sympathy.

Pathos Examples

Pathos in literature.

Characters in literature often use pathos to convince one another, or themselves, of a certain viewpoint. It's important to remember that pathos , perhaps more than the other modes of persuasion, relies not only on the content of what is said, but also on the tone and expressiveness of the delivery . For that reason, depictions of characters using pathos can be dramatic and revealing of character.

Pathos in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

In this example from Chapter 16 of Pride and Prejudice , George Wickham describes the history of his relationship with Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet—or at least, he describes his version of their shared history. Wickham's goal is to endear himself to Elizabeth, turn her against Mr. Darcy, and cover up the truth. (Wickham actually squanders his inheritance from Mr. Darcy's father and, out of laziness, turns down Darcy Senior's offer help him obtain a "living" as a clergyman.)

"The church ought to have been my profession...had it pleased [Mr. Darcy]... Yes—the late Mr. Darcy bequeathed me the next presentation of the best living in his gift. He was my godfather, and excessively attached to me. I cannot do justice to his kindness. He meant to provide for me amply, and thought he had done it; but when the living fell it was given elsewhere...There was just such an informality in the terms of the bequest as to give me no hope from law. A man of honor could not have doubted the intention, but Mr. Darcy chose to doubt it—or to treat it as a merely conditional recommendation, and to assert that I had forfeited all claim to it by extravagance, imprudence, in short any thing or nothing. Certain it is, that the living became vacant two years ago, exactly as I was of an age to hold it, and that it was given to another man; and no less certain is it, that I cannot accuse myself of having really done anything to deserve to lose it. I have a warm, unguarded temper, and I may perhaps have sometimes spoken my opinion of him, and to him, too freely. I can recall nothing worse. But the fact is, that we are very different sort of men, and that he hates me." "This is quite shocking!—he deserves to be publicly disgraced." "Some time or other he will be—but it shall not be by me. Till I can forget his father, I can never defy or expose him." Elizabeth honored him for such feelings, and thought him handsomer than ever as he expressed them.

Here, Wickham claims that Darcy robbed him of his intended profession out of greed, and that he, Wickham, is too virtuous to reveal Mr. Darcy's "true" nature with respect to this issue. By doing so, Wickham successfully uses pathos in the form of a personal story, inspiring Elizabeth to feel sympathy, admiration, and romantic interest towards him. In this example, Wickham's use of pathos indicates a shifty, manipulative character and lack of substance.

Pathos in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

In The Scarlet Letter , Hawthorne tells the story of Hester Prynne, a young woman living in seventeenth-century Boston. As punishment for committing the sin of adultery, she is sentenced to public humiliation on the scaffold, and forced to wear the scarlet letter "A" on her clothing for the rest of her life. Even though Hester's punishment exposes her before the community, she refuses to reveal the identity of the man she slept with. In the following passage from Chapter 3, two reverends—first, Arthur Dimmesdale and then John Wilson—urge her to reveal the name of her partner:

"What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him—yea, compel him, as it were—to add hypocrisy to sin? Heaven hath granted thee an open ignominy, that thereby thou mayest work out an open triumph over the evil within thee and the sorrow without. Take heed how thou deniest to him—who, perchance, hath not the courage to grasp it for himself—the bitter, but wholesome, cup that is now presented to thy lips!’ The young pastor’s voice was tremulously sweet, rich, deep, and broken. The feeling that it so evidently manifested, rather than the direct purport of the words, caused it to vibrate within all hearts, and brought the listeners into one accord of sympathy. Even the poor baby at Hester’s bosom was affected by the same influence, for it directed its hitherto vacant gaze towards Mr. Dimmesdale, and held up its little arms with a half-pleased, half-plaintive murmur... "Woman, transgress not beyond the limits of Heaven’s mercy!’ cried the Reverend Mr. Wilson, more harshly than before. ‘That little babe hath been gifted with a voice, to second and confirm the counsel which thou hast heard. Speak out the name! That, and thy repentance, may avail to take the scarlet letter off thy breast."

The reverends call upon Hester's love for the father of her child—the same love they are condemning—to convince her to reveal his identity. Their attempts to move her by appealing to her sense of duty, compassion and morality are examples of pathos. Once again, this example of pathos reveals a lack of moral fiber in the reverends who are attempting to manipulate Hester by appealing to her emotions, particularly since (spoiler alert!) Reverend Dimmesdale is in fact the father.

Pathos in Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"

In " Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," Thomas urges his dying father to cling to life and his love of it. The poem is a villanelle , a specific form of verse that originated as a ballad or "country song" and is known for its repetition. Thomas' selection of the repetitive villanelle form contributes to the pathos of his insistent message to his father—his appeal to his father's inner strength:

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

It's worth noting that, in this poem, pathos is not in any way connected to a lack of morals or inner strength. Quite the opposite, the appeal to emotion is connected to a profound love—the poet's own love for his father.

Pathos in Political Speeches

Politicians understand the power of emotion, and successful politicians are adept at harnessing people's emotions to curry favor for themselves, as well as their policies and ideologies.

Pathos in Barack Obama's 2013 Address to the Nation on Syria

In August 2013, the Syrian government, led by Bashar al-Assad, used chemical weapons against Syrians who opposed his regime, causing several countries—including the United States—to consider military intervention in the conflict. Obama's tragic descriptions of civilians who died as a result of the attack are an example of pathos : they provoke an emotional response and help him mobilize American sentiment in favor of U.S. intervention.

Over the past two years, what began as a series of peaceful protests against the oppressive regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into a brutal civil war. Over 100,000 people have been killed. Millions have fled the country...The situation profoundly changed, though, on August 21st, when Assad’s government gassed to death over 1,000 people, including hundreds of children. The images from this massacre are sickening: men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk.

Pathos in Ronald Reagan's 1987 " Tear Down This Wall!" Speech

In 1987, the Berlin Wall divided Communist East Berlin from Democratic West Berlin. The Wall was a symbol of the divide between the communist Soviet Union, or Eastern Bloc, and the Western Bloc which included the United States, NATO and its allies. The wall also split Berlin in two, obstructing one of Berlin's most famous landmarks: the Brandenburg Gate.

Reagan's speech, delivered to a crowd in front of the Brandenburg Gate, contains many examples of pathos:

Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe...Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly...Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar... General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Reagan moves his listeners to feel outrage at the Wall's existence by calling it a "scar." He assures Germans that the world is invested in the city's problems by telling the crowd that "Every man is a Berliner." Finally, he excites and invigorates the listener by boldly daring Gorbachev, president of the Soviet Union, to "tear down this wall!"

Pathos in Advertising

Few appreciate the complexity of pathos better than advertisers. Consider all the ads you've seen in the past week. Whether you're thinking of billboards, magazine ads, or TV commercials, its almost a guarantee that the ones you remember contained very little specific information about the product, and were instead designed to create an emotional association with the brand. Advertisers spend incredible amounts of money trying to understand exactly what Aristotle describes as the building blocks of pathos: the emotional "who, what, and why" of their target audience. Take a look at this advertisement for the watch company, Rolex, featuring David Beckham:

advertising pathos

Notice that the ad doesn't convey anything specific about the watch itself to make someone think it's a high quality or useful product. Instead, the ad caters to Rolex's target audience of successful male professionals by causing them to associate the Rolex brand with soccer player David Beckham, a celebrity who embodies the values of the advertisement's target audience: physical fitness and attractiveness, style, charisma, and good hair.

Why Do Writers Use Pathos?

The philosopher and psychologist William James once said, “The emotions aren’t always immediately subject to reason, but they are always immediately subject to action.” Pathos is a powerful tool, enabling speakers to galvanize their listeners into action, or persuade them to support a desired cause. Speechwriters, politicians, and advertisers use pathos for precisely this reason: to influence their audience to a desired belief or action.

The use of pathos in literature is often different than in public speeches, since it's less common for authors to try to directly influence their readers in the way politicians might try to influence their audiences. Rather, authors often employ pathos by having a character make use of it in their own speech. In doing so, the author may be giving the reader some insight into a character's values, motives, or their perception of another character.

Consider the above example from The Scarlet Letter. The clergymen in Hester's town punish her by publicly humiliating her in front of the community and holding her up as an example of sin for conceiving a child outside of marriage. The reverends make an effort to get Hester to tell them the name of her child's father by making a dramatic appeal to a sense of shame that Hester plainly does not feel over her sin. As a result, this use of pathos only serves to expose the the manipulative intent of the reverends, offering readers some insight into their moral character as well as that of Puritan society at large. Ultimately, it's a good example of an ineffective use of pathos , since what the reverends lack is the key to eliciting the response they want: a strong grasp of what their listener values.

Other Helpful Pathos Resources

  • The Wikipedia Page on Pathos: A detailed explanation which covers Aristotle's original ideas on pathos and discusses how the term's meaning has changed over time.
  • The Dictionary Definition of Pathos: A definition and etymology of the term, which comes from the Greek pàthos, meaning "suffering or sensation."
  • An excellent video from TED-Ed about the three modes of persuasion.
  • A pathos -laden recording of Dylan Thomas reading his poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"

The printed PDF version of the LitCharts literary term guide on Pathos

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Definition of Pathos

Pathos is a literary device that is designed to inspire emotions from readers. Pathos, Greek for “suffering” or “experience,” originated as a conceptual mode of persuasion by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. Aristotle believed that utilizing pathos as a means of stirring people’s emotions is effective in turning their opinion towards the speaker . This is due in part because emotions and passion can be engulfing and compelling, even going against a sense of logic or reason.

Pathos, as an appeal to an audience ’s emotions, is a valuable device in literature as well as rhetoric and other forms of writing. Like all art, literature is intended to evoke a feeling in a reader and, when done effectively, generate greater meaning and understanding of existence. For example, in his poem “No Man Is an Island,” John Donne appeals to the reader’s emotions of acceptance, belonging, and empathy:

No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thy friend’s Or of thine own were: Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls ; It tolls for thee.

By describing how all men are connected rather than isolated, Donne utilizes pathos as an emotional appeal to readers of his poem. The feelings evoked by the poet are grief and sympathy for all who die, because all death is an individual loss and a loss for mankind as a whole.

Common Examples of Emotions Evoked by Pathos

Pathos has the power to evoke many emotions in a reader or audience of a literary work. Here are some common examples of emotions evoked by pathos in literature:

Examples of Pathos in Advertisement

Advertisers heavily rely on pathos to provoke an emotional reaction in an audience of consumers, thereby persuading them to take action in the form of patronage or other monetary support. Here are some examples of pathos in an advertisement:

  • television commercial showing neglected or mistreated animals
  • political ad utilizing fear tactics
  • holiday commercial showing a family coming together for a meal
  • cologne commercial displaying sexual tension
  • diaper ad featuring a crying baby
  • ad for cleaning product featuring a messy house and frustrated homeowner
  • jewelry commercial showing a marriage proposal
  • insurance ad showing a terrible car accident
  • ad for a line of toys showing children playing together
  • commercial for make-up displaying a woman receiving attention from men

Famous Examples of Pathos in Movie Lines

Many films feature dialogue that generates pathos and emotional reactions in viewers. Here are some famous examples of pathos in well-known movie lines:

  • Love means never having to say you’re sorry. (Love Story )
  • The jail you planned for me is the one you’re gonna rot in. ( The Color Purple )
  • I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. (Network)
  • The marks humans leave are too often scars. (The Fault in Our Stars)
  • I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. (The Shawshank Redemption)
  • And just like that, she was gone, out of my life again. (Forrest Gump)
  • There are two types of people in the world: The people who naturally excel at life. And the people who  hope all those people die in a big explosion. (The Edge of Being Seventeen)
  • You have to get through your fear to see the beauty on the other side. (The Good Dinosaur)
  •   Hate  never solved nothing, but  calm  did. And thought did. Try it. Try it just for a  change . (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  • Things change, friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody. (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

Difference Between Pathos, Logos, and Ethos

Aristotle outlined three forms of rhetoric, which is the art of effective speaking and writing. These forms are pathos, logos , and ethos . As a matter of rhetorical persuasion, it is important for these forms (or “appeals”) to be balanced. This is especially true for pathos in that overuse of emotional appeal can lead to a flawed argument without the balance of logic or credibility.

Logos is an appeal to logic. It is considered a methodical and rational approach to rhetoric. In a sense, logos is an appeal that is devoid of pathos. Ethos is an appeal to ethics. As an effective rhetorical form, a writer or speaker must have knowledge and credibility regarding the subject . Ethos, therefore, builds trust with an audience as an ethical and character -driven approach.

Pathos is a common form of rhetoric and persuasive tactic. Emotion and passion can be powerful forces in motivating an audience or readership. However, pathos has minimal effect without the balance of logos and ethos as appeals.

Effect of Pathos on Logos

Aa a logo appeals to logic, and pathos appeals to emotions. It is a well-known fact that not everybody gets convinced by logic and the same is the case of pathos which not everybody gets convinced with pathos only. Therefore, orators and speakers use both in a combination. When a pathos is added to logos, it becomes convincing, persuasive, strong, and touches beliefs and values.

Effect of Pathos on Ethos

Although ethos is itself a strong rhetorical device and works wonders when it comes to persuasion and convincing the audience, when a touch of pathos is added to it, it becomes a lethal weapon. It has happened in I Have a Dream , a powerful rhetorical piece of Martin Luther King and the speech is still a memorable rhetorical piece. The reason is that not only does it enhance the power of argument when added with an ethos, it also increases the trust and credibility of the speaker or orator.

How To Build Arguments Using Pathos  

When using pathos, keep these points in mind.

  • What is the touching event for the audience?
  • Evaluate how the audiences or readers respond to the gravity of the situation?
  • Use pathos with ethos first and then use l0gos to add pathos later.
  • Pathos is always the last weapon after ethos and logos.

Fallacy Of Emotion (Pathos) / Fallacious Pathos

As pathos is also called a fallacy of emotion, the use of only pathos is highly damaging for argumentative writing and speaking. The reason is that audiences if they are not directly concerned with the pathetic event or tragedy , become bored with excessive targetting of their emotions and eventually lose interest. At this point, it becomes a fallacy. Therefore, always avoid fallacious pathos. Add a touch of veracity to your pathos and use it in conjunction with ethos first and add logos later.

Three Characteristics Of Pathos

There are three important characteristics of pathos.

  • It is relevant to the target audience or readers and is couched in simple and strong language.
  • It is intended to achieve a specific purpose.
  • It is not excessive that it should become fallacious pathos.

 Using Pathos in Sentences

  • The Holocaust has done more harm to the entire Jewish nation than any other such event.
  • If you love me, you’ll get me a cell phone for my safety.
  • I have to pick up my children from school every day, can you give me a good deal on this car?
  • Look at these innocent street children. By seeing this, you can give us good donations.
  • If you let me eat chips everyday, it will prove that you love me and I will do the dishes.

Examples of Pathos in Literature

Though Aristotle defined pathos as a rhetorical technique for persuasion, literary writers rely on pathos as well to evoke emotion and understanding in readers. As a literary device, pathos allows readers to connect to and find meaning in characters and narratives. Here are some examples of pathos in literature and the impact this literary device has on the work and the reader:

Example 1:  Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden

He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong. The stars are not wanted now ; put out every one, Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun, Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood; For nothing now can ever come to any good.

In his poem, Auden relies on pathos as a literary device to evoke feelings of grief and inspire sympathy in the reader. The poet cannot cope with the loss of his loved one and companion, yet the world around him continues to function as if nothing is different and as if the funeral is not taking place. The poet’s passion for his loved one, that he was all cardinal directions and days and times, followed by the poet’s desperation to remove elements of nature, inspires sympathetic mourning in readers.

Though the poet cannot get the world to pause in grief for his loved one, by utilizing pathos as a literary device in this poem, Auden is able to momentarily capture the reader’s attention and understanding. This pause for grief and sympathy on the part of the reader fulfills, on some level, the emotional need of the poet to be recognized and validated in his mourning. This reciprocal exchange of feeling enhances the connection between the poet and reader through pathos.

Example 2:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.

In her memoir , Angelou focuses on the emotional events of her life from early childhood through adolescence. While recounting her story, Angelou utilizes pathos to appeal to the reader’s emotions and to evoke empathy for her experiences, especially in terms of trauma, abuse, and racism.

In this particular passage from her memoir, Angelou appeals to the reader’s feelings of shame, empathy, and fear by describing her experience and how she felt as a Black girl growing up in the South. This allows the reader to connect with and find meaning in Angelou’s writing and experiences, especially if those experiences are unfamiliar or personally unknown to the reader. In addition, the pathos in this passage is an effective literary device through confronting the reader with the pain, displacement, and insult experienced not just by Angelou as a Southern Black girl, but in a generalized manner for all Southern Black girls. Angelou’s readers are therefore encouraged through pathos to identify this experience and share in the resulting emotional anger and pain.

Example 3:  Romeo and Juliet  by William Shakespeare

Two households, both alike in dignity In fair Verona, where we lay our scene From ancient grudge break to new mutiny Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star- cross ’d lovers take their life Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.

In the prologue , Shakespeare foreshadows the events that take place in the play between Romeo and Juliet and their families. He also foreshadows the feelings and struggles of the characters, which is an appeal to the pathos of the audience/reader. For example, by stating that “civil blood makes civil hands unclean,” Shakespeare evokes feelings of dread and uncertainty in the audience, knowing that there is impending violence. By categorizing Romeo and Juliet as “star-crossed” lovers, Shakespeare appeals to the audience’s feelings of passion and unrequited love. Finally, in announcing the deaths of the lovers, Shakespeare inspires sadness, grief, and possibly anger or frustration in the audience at the foretold outcome.

With these emotional appeals in his prologue, Shakespeare not only prepares his audience for what is to come in the plot of the play but also sets the tone and prepares the appropriate emotional reactions for the audience to the events that will happen. This is a unique use of pathos as a literary device. Rather than allowing the audience to feel and react to the play’s narrative as it unfolds, Shakespeare “primes” emotional responses through pathos before the play even begins. This technique is effective because the audience is able to focus on the nuances of the play since they are already aware of the main events and outcomes, as well as how to feel about it.

Synonyms of Pathos

Pathos has a few synonyms that follow but they are only distant meanings. Some of them are tragedy, sadness, pitifulness, piteousness, sorrowfulness, lugubrious, poignant, and poignancy.

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Ai, ethics & human agency, collaboration, information literacy, writing process, using pathos in persuasive writing.

  • CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 by Angela Eward-Mangione - Hillsborough Community College

Incorporating appeals to pathos into persuasive writing increases a writer’s chances of achieving his or her purpose. Read “ Pathos ” to define and understand pathos and methods for appealing to it. The following brief article discusses examples of these appeals in persuasive writing.

An important key to incorporating pathos into your persuasive writing effectively is appealing to your audience’s commonly held emotions. To do this, one must be able to identify common emotions, as well as understand what situations typically evoke such emotions. The blog post “ The 10 Most Common Feelings Worldwide, We Feel Fine ,” offers an interview with Seth Kamvar, co-author of We Feel Fine. According to the post, the 10 most commonly held emotions in 2006-2009 were: better, bad, good, guilty, sorry, sick, well, comfortable, great, and happy (qtd. in Whelan).

Let’s take a look at some potential essay topics, what emotions they might evoke, and what methods can be used to appeal to those emotions.

Example: Animal Cruelty

Related Emotions:

Method Narrative

In “To Kill a Chicken,” Nicholas Kristof describes footage taken by an undercover investigator for Mercy with Animals at a North Carolina poultry slaughterhouse: “some chickens aren’t completely knocked out by the electric current and can be seen struggling frantically. Others avoid the circular saw somehow. A backup worker is supposed to cut the throat of those missed by the saw, but any that get by him are scalded alive, the investigator said” (Kristof).

This narrative account, which creates a cruel picture in readers’ minds, will evoke anger, horror, sadness, and sympathy.

Example: Human Trafficking

  • Sadness (sorry)
  • Sympathy 

Method: Direct Quote

“From Victim to Impassioned Voice” provides the perspective of Asia Graves, a victim of a vicious child prostitution ring who attributes her survival to a group of women: “If I didn’t have those strong women, I’d be nowhere” (McKin).

A quote from a victim of human trafficking humanizes the topic, eliciting sadness and sympathy for the victim(s).

Example: Cyberbullying

Method: empathy for an opposing view.

The concerns of some people who oppose the criminalization of cyberbullying are understandable. For example, Justin W. Patchin, coauthor of Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying , opposes making cyberbullying a crime because he views the federal and state governments’ role as one to educate local school districts and provide resources for them (“Cyberbullying”). Patchin does not oppose cyberbullying itself; rather, he takes issue with the government responding to it through criminalization.

Identifying and articulating the opposing view as well as the concerns that underpin it helps the audience experience a full range of sympathy, a commonly held emotion, as a consequence of sincerely investigating and acknowledging another view.

The method a writer uses to persuade emotionally his or her audience will depend on the situation. However, any writer who uses at least one approach will be more persuasive than a writer who ignores opportunities to entreat one of the most powerful aspects of the human experience—emotions.

Works Cited

“Cyberbullying.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection . Detroit: Gale, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints in Context . Web. 21 July 2016.

Kristof, Nicholas. “To Kill a Chicken.” The New York Times . The New York Times, 3 May 2015. Web. 20 July 2016.

McKin, Jenifer. “From victim to impassioned voice: Women exploited as a teen fights sexual trafficking of children.” The Boston Globe . Boston Globe Media Partners, 27 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 July 2016.

Whelan, Christine. “The 10 Most Common Feelings Worldwide: We Feel Fine.” The Huffington Post . The Huffington Post, 18 March 2012. Web. 21 July 2016.

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8: How Arguments Appeal to Emotion (Pathos)

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Learning Outcomes 

  • Describe the value of emotional appeals in written academic argument
  • Identify the ways in which a given argument appeals to emotion through word choice, tone, or powerful examples
  • Assess the likely effectiveness of an emotional appeal for a particular audience
  • Distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate emotional appeals
  • Use legitimate emotional appeals to support their own written arguments. 
  • 8.1: The Place of Emotion in Argument Logic and emotion come together to build powerful arguments and infuse them with a sense of purpose.
  • 8.2: Word Choice and Connotation Writers can help shape readers’ reactions by choosing words with particular emotional associations.
  • 8.3: Powerful Examples Powerful examples can help readers connect emotionally to the argument’s claims.
  • 8.4: Tone The overall emotional tenor of an argument is called tone. Identifying and describing the tone can give us insight into the author’s attitude and purpose.
  • 8.5: Varying the Emotions The tone can vary throughout an argument as the author moves from point to point.
  • 8.6: Fitting the Emotions to the Audience The success of an emotional appeal depends on how well the author predicts readers’ likely reactions.
  • 8.7: Legitimate and Illegitimate Emotional Appeals Emotional appeals need to align with logical reasoning to be legitimate.

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Chapter 6: Thinking and Analyzing Rhetorically

6.4 Rhetorical Appeals: Logos, Pathos, and Ethos Defined

Melanie Gagich & Emilie Zickel

Rhetoric, as the previous chapters have discussed, is the way that authors use and manipulate language in order to persuade an audience. Once we understand the rhetorical situation out of which a text is created (why it was written, for whom it was written, by whom it was written, how the medium in which it was written creates certain constraints, or perhaps freedoms of expression), we can look at how all of those contextual elements shape the author’s creation of the text.

We can look first at the classical rhetorical appeals, which are the three ways to classify authors’ intellectual, moral, and emotional approaches to getting the audience to have the reaction that the author hopes for.

Rhetorical Appeals

Rhetorical appeals refer to ethos, pathos, and logos. These are classical Greek terms, dating back to Aristotle, who is traditionally seen as the father of rhetoric. To be rhetorically effective (and thus persuasive), an author must engage the audience in a variety of compelling ways, which involves carefully choosing how to craft his or her argument so that the outcome, audience agreement with the argument or point, is achieved. Aristotle defined these modes of engagement and gave them the terms that we still use today: logos, pathos, and ethos.

Logos: Appeal to Logic

Logic. Reason. Rationality. Logos is brainy and intellectual, cool, calm, collected, objective.

When an author relies on logos, it means that he or she is using logic, careful structure, and objective evidence to appeal to the audience. An author can appeal to an audience’s intellect by using information that can be fact checked (using multiple sources) and thorough explanations to support key points. Additionally, providing a solid and non-biased explanation of one’s argument is a great way for an author to invoke logos.

For example, if I were trying to convince my students to complete their homework, I might explain that I understand everyone is busy and they have other classes (non-biased), but the homework will help them get a better grade on their test (explanation). I could add to this explanation by providing statistics showing the number of students who failed and didn’t complete their homework versus the number of students who passed and did complete their homework (factual evidence).

Logical appeals rest on rational modes of thinking , such as

  • Comparison –  a comparison between one thing (with regard to your topic) and another, similar thing to help support your claim. It is important that the comparison is fair and valid – the things being compared must share significant traits of similarity.
  • Cause/effect thinking –  you argue that X has caused Y, or that X is likely to cause Y to help support your claim. Be careful with the latter – it can be difficult to predict that something “will” happen in the future.
  • Deductive reasoning –  starting with a broad, general claim/example and using it to support a more specific point or claim
  • Inductive reasoning –  using several specific examples or cases to make a broad generalization
  • Exemplification –  use of many examples or a variety of evidence to support a single point
  • Elaboration – moving beyond just including a fact, but explaining the significance or relevance of that fact
  • Coherent thought – maintaining a well organized line of reasoning; not repeating ideas or jumping around

Pathos: Appeal to Emotions

When an author relies on pathos, it means that he or she is trying to tap into the audience’s emotions to get them to agree with the author’s claim. An author using pathetic appeals wants the audience to feel something: anger, pride, joy, rage, or happiness.  For example, many of us have seen the ASPCA commercials that use photographs of injured puppies, or sad-looking kittens, and slow, depressing music to emotionally persuade their audience to donate money.

Pathos-based rhetorical strategies are any strategies that get the audience to “open up” to the topic, the argument, or to the author. Emotions can make us vulnerable, and an author can use this vulnerability to get the audience to believe that his or her argument is a compelling one.

Pathetic appeals might include

  • Expressive descriptions of people, places, or events that help the reader to feel or experience those events
  • Vivid imagery  of people, places or events that help the reader to feel like he or she is seeing  those events
  • Sharing  personal stories that make the reader feel a connection to, or empathy for, the person being described
  • Using emotion-laden   vocabulary  as a way to put the reader into that specific emotional mindset (what is the author trying to make the audience feel? and how is he or she doing that?)
  • Using any information that will evoke an emotional response from the audience . This could involve making the audience feel empathy or disgust for the person/group/event being discussed, or perhaps connection to or rejection of the person/group/event being discussed.

When reading a text, try to locate when the author is trying to convince the reader using emotions because, if used to excess, pathetic appeals can indicate a lack of substance or emotional manipulation of the audience. See the links below about fallacious pathos for more information.

Ethos: Appeal to Values/Trust

Ethical appeals have two facets: audience values and authorial credibility/character.

On the one hand, when an author makes an ethical appeal, he or she is attempting to  tap into the  values or ideologies that the audience holds , for example, patriotism, tradition, justice, equality, dignity for all humankind, self preservation, or other specific social, religious or philosophical values (Christian values, socialism, capitalism, feminism, etc.). These values can sometimes feel very close to emotions, but they are felt on a social level rather than only on a personal level. When an author evokes the values that the audience cares about as a way to justify or support his or her argument, we classify that as ethos. The audience will feel that the author is making an argument that is “right” (in the sense of moral “right”-ness, i.e., “My argument rests upon that values that matter to you. Therefore, you should accept my argument”). This first part of the definition of ethos, then, is focused on the audience’s values.

On the other hand, this sense of referencing what is “right” in an ethical appeal connects to the other sense of ethos: the  author. Ethos that is centered on the author revolves around two concepts: the credibility of the author and his or her character.

Credibility of the speaker/author is determined by his or her knowledge and expertise in the subject at hand. For example, if you are learning about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, would you rather learn from a professor of physics or a cousin who took two science classes in high school thirty years ago? It is fair to say that, in general, the professor of physics would have more credibility to discuss the topic of physics. To establish his or her credibility, a n author may draw attention to who he or she is or what kinds of experience he or she has with the topic being discussed as an ethical appeal (i.e., “Because I have experience with this topic –  and I know my stuff! – you should trust what I am saying about this topic”). Some authors do not have to establish their credibility because the audience already knows who they are and that they are credible.

Character  is another aspect of ethos, and it   is different from credibility because it involves personal history and even personality traits. A person can be credible but lack character or vice versa. For example, in politics, sometimes the most experienced candidates – those who might be the most credible candidates – fail to win elections because voters do not accept their character. Politicians take pains to shape their character as leaders who have the interests of the voters at heart. The candidate who successfully proves to the voters (the audience) that he or she has the type of character that they can trust is more likely to win.

Thus, ethos comes down to trust. How can the author get the audience to trust him or her so that they will accept his or her argument? How can the the author make him or herself appear as a credible speaker who embodies the character traits that the audience values?

In building ethical appeals, we see authors

  • Referring either directly or indirectly to the values that matter to the intended audience (so that the audience will trust the speaker)
  • Using language, phrasing, imagery, or other writing styles common to people who hold those values, thereby “talking the talk” of people with those values (again, so that the audience is inclined to trust the speaker)
  • Referring to their experience and/or authority with the topic (and therefore demonstrating their credibility)
  • Referring to their own character, or making an effort to build their character in the text

When reading, you should always think about the author’s credibility regarding the subject as well as his or her character. Here is an example of a rhetorical move that connects with ethos: when reading an article about abortion, the author mentions that she has had an abortion. That is an example of an ethical move because the author is creating credibility via anecdotal evidence and first person narrative. In a rhetorical analysis project, it would be up to you, the analyzer, to point out this move and associate it with a rhetorical strategy.

 When writers misuse Logos, Pathos, or Ethos, arguments can be weakened

Above, we defined and described what logos, pathos, and ethos are and why authors may use those strategies. Sometimes, using a combination of logical, pathetic, and ethical appeals leads to a sound, balanced, and persuasive argument. It is important to understand, though, that using rhetorical appeals does not always lead to a sound, balanced argument.

In fact, any of the appeals could be misused or overused. When that happens, arguments can be weakened.

To see what a misuse of logical appeals might consist of, see the next chapter,   Logical Fallacies.

To see how authors can overuse emotional appeals and turn-off their target audience, visit the following link from :   Fallacious Pathos . 

To see how ethos can be misused or used in a manner that may be misleading, visit the following link to :  Fallacious Ethos

A Guide to Rhetoric, Genre, and Success in First-Year Writing by Melanie Gagich & Emilie Zickel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.


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Pathos in The Rhetorical Argument

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pathos in argumentative essay examples

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Using Rhetorical Strategies for Persuasion

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There are three types of rhetorical appeals, or persuasive strategies, used in arguments to support claims and respond to opposing arguments. A good argument will generally use a combination of all three appeals to make its case.

Logos or the appeal to reason relies on logic or reason. Logos often depends on the use of inductive or deductive reasoning.

Inductive reasoning takes a specific representative case or facts and then draws generalizations or conclusions from them. Inductive reasoning must be based on a sufficient amount of reliable evidence. In other words, the facts you draw on must fairly represent the larger situation or population. Example:

In this example the specific case of fair trade agreements with coffee producers is being used as the starting point for the claim. Because these agreements have worked the author concludes that it could work for other farmers as well.

Deductive reasoning begins with a generalization and then applies it to a specific case. The generalization you start with must have been based on a sufficient amount of reliable evidence.Example:

In this example the author starts with a large claim, that genetically modified seeds have been problematic everywhere, and from this draws the more localized or specific conclusion that Mexico will be affected in the same way.

Avoid Logical Fallacies

These are some common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Also, watch out for these slips in other people's arguments.

Slippery slope: This is a conclusion based on the premise that if A happens, then eventually through a series of small steps, through B, C,..., X, Y, Z will happen, too, basically equating A and Z. So, if we don't want Z to occur A must not be allowed to occur either. Example:

In this example the author is equating banning Hummers with banning all cars, which is not the same thing.

Hasty Generalization: This is a conclusion based on insufficient or biased evidence. In other words, you are rushing to a conclusion before you have all the relevant facts. Example:

In this example the author is basing their evaluation of the entire course on only one class, and on the first day which is notoriously boring and full of housekeeping tasks for most courses. To make a fair and reasonable evaluation the author must attend several classes, and possibly even examine the textbook, talk to the professor, or talk to others who have previously finished the course in order to have sufficient evidence to base a conclusion on.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc: This is a conclusion that assumes that if 'A' occurred after 'B' then 'B' must have caused 'A.' Example:

In this example the author assumes that if one event chronologically follows another the first event must have caused the second. But the illness could have been caused by the burrito the night before, a flu bug that had been working on the body for days, or a chemical spill across campus. There is no reason, without more evidence, to assume the water caused the person to be sick.

Genetic Fallacy: A conclusion is based on an argument that the origins of a person, idea, institute, or theory determine its character, nature, or worth. Example:

In this example the author is equating the character of a car with the character of the people who built the car.

Begging the Claim: The conclusion that the writer should prove is validated within the claim. Example:

Arguing that coal pollutes the earth and thus should be banned would be logical. But the very conclusion that should be proved, that coal causes enough pollution to warrant banning its use, is already assumed in the claim by referring to it as "filthy and polluting."

Circular Argument: This restates the argument rather than actually proving it. Example:

In this example the conclusion that Bush is a "good communicator" and the evidence used to prove it "he speaks effectively" are basically the same idea. Specific evidence such as using everyday language, breaking down complex problems, or illustrating his points with humorous stories would be needed to prove either half of the sentence.

Either/or: This is a conclusion that oversimplifies the argument by reducing it to only two sides or choices. Example:

In this example where two choices are presented as the only options, yet the author ignores a range of choices in between such as developing cleaner technology, car sharing systems for necessities and emergencies, or better community planning to discourage daily driving.

Ad hominem: This is an attack on the character of a person rather than their opinions or arguments. Example:

In this example the author doesn't even name particular strategies Green Peace has suggested, much less evaluate those strategies on their merits. Instead, the author attacks the characters of the individuals in the group.

Ad populum: This is an emotional appeal that speaks to positive (such as patriotism, religion, democracy) or negative (such as terrorism or fascism) concepts rather than the real issue at hand. Example:

In this example the author equates being a "true American," a concept that people want to be associated with, particularly in a time of war, with allowing people to buy any vehicle they want even though there is no inherent connection between the two.

Red Herring: This is a diversionary tactic that avoids the key issues, often by avoiding opposing arguments rather than addressing them. Example:

In this example the author switches the discussion away from the safety of the food and talks instead about an economic issue, the livelihood of those catching fish. While one issue may affect the other, it does not mean we should ignore possible safety issues because of possible economic consequences to a few individuals.

Ethos or the ethical appeal is based on the character, credibility, or reliability of the writer. There are many ways to establish good character and credibility as an author:

  • Use only credible, reliable sources to build your argument and cite those sources properly.
  • Respect the reader by stating the opposing position accurately.
  • Establish common ground with your audience. Most of the time, this can be done by acknowledging values and beliefs shared by those on both sides of the argument.
  • If appropriate for the assignment, disclose why you are interested in this topic or what personal experiences you have had with the topic.
  • Organize your argument in a logical, easy to follow manner. You can use the Toulmin method of logic or a simple pattern such as chronological order, most general to most detailed example, earliest to most recent example, etc.
  • Proofread the argument. Too many careless grammar mistakes cast doubt on your character as a writer.

Pathos , or emotional appeal, appeals to an audience's needs, values, and emotional sensibilities.  Pathos can also be understood as an appeal to audience's disposition to a topic, evidence, or argument (especially appropriate to academic discourse). 

Argument emphasizes reason, but used properly there is often a place for emotion as well. Emotional appeals can use sources such as interviews and individual stories to paint a more legitimate and moving picture of reality or illuminate the truth. For example, telling the story of a single child who has been abused may make for a more persuasive argument than simply the number of children abused each year because it would give a human face to the numbers.  Academic arguments in particular ​benefit from understanding pathos as appealing to an audience's academic disposition.

Only use an emotional appeal if it truly supports the claim you are making, not as a way to distract from the real issues of debate. An argument should never use emotion to misrepresent the topic or frighten people.

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How to Use Pathos in an Essay: Connecting Emotion and Persuasion

Table of contents, the power of pathos, techniques for utilizing pathos, balance and ethical considerations.

  • Aristotle. (n.d.). Rhetoric. Project Gutenberg.
  • Edlund, J. R. (2019). The Ethos-Pathos-Logos of Aristotle's Rhetoric. Humanities Commons.
  • Perloff, M. (2009). The dynamics of persuasion: Communication and attitudes in the 21st century. Routledge.
  • Johnson, R. H. (2005). Imagining the audience in audience appeals: Audience invoked in American public address textbooks, 1830-1930. Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 8(3), 429-453.
  • Walton, D. N. (2013). The new dialectic: Conversational contexts of argument. University of Toronto Press.
  • Kellner, D. (2009). Critical theory, Marxism, and modernity. In The Routledge companion to social and political philosophy (pp. 381-395). Routledge.
  • Gardner, R. C. (2019). Environmental psychology: An introduction. Routledge.
  • Pinker, S. (2014). The sense of style: The thinking person's guide to writing in the 21st century. Penguin Books.
  • Cialdini, R. B. (2008). Influence: Science and practice (Vol. 4). Pearson Education.
  • Sobieraj, S., & Berry, J. M. (2011). From incivility to outrage: Political discourse in blogs, talk radio, and cable news. Political Communication, 28(1), 19-41.

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Understand The Difference Between Ethos, Pathos, And Logos To Make Your Point

  • What Is Ethos?
  • What Is Pathos?
  • What Is Logos?
  • Examples Of Each
  • What Are Mythos And Kairos?

During an argument, people will often say whatever is necessary to win. If that is the case, they would certainly need to understand the three modes of persuasion, also commonly known as the three rhetorical appeals: ethos , pathos , and logos . In short, these three words refer to three main methods that a person can use to speak or write persuasively. As you’re about to find out, the modes of persuasion are important because a speaker who knows how to effectively use them will have a significant advantage over someone who doesn’t.

The terms ethos , pathos , and logos and the theory of their use can be traced back to ancient Greece to the philosophy of Aristotle . Aristotle used these three concepts in his explanations of rhetoric , or the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience. For Aristotle, the three modes of persuasion specifically referred to the three major parts of an argument: the speaker ( ethos ), the argument itself ( logos ), and the audience ( pathos ). In particular, Aristotle focused on the speaker’s character, the logic and reason presented by an argument, and the emotional impact the argument had on an audience.

While they have ancient roots, these modes of persuasion are alive and well today. Put simply, ethos refers to persuasion based on the credibility or authority of the speaker, pathos refers to persuasion based on emotion, and logos refers to persuasion based on logic or reason.

By effectively using the three modes of persuasion with a large supply of rhetorical devices, a speaker or writer can become a master of rhetoric and win nearly any argument or win over any audience. Before they can do that, though, they must know exactly what ethos , pathos , and logos mean. Fortunately, we are going to look closely at each of these three ideas and see if they are really as effective as they are said to be.

⚡️ Quick summary

Ethos , pathos , and logos are the three classical modes of persuasion that a person can use to speak or write persuasively. Specifically:

  • ethos (character): known as “the appeal to authority” or “the appeal to credibility.” This is the method in which a person relies on their credibility or character when making an appeal or an argument.
  • pathos (emotions): known as “the appeal to emotion.” Pathos refers to the method of trying to persuade an audience by eliciting some kind of emotional reaction.
  • logos (logic): known as “the appeal to reason.” This method involves using facts and logical reasoning to support an argument and persuade an audience.

What is ethos ?

The word ethos comes straight from Greek. In Greek, ethos literally translates to “habit,” “custom,” or “character.” Ethos is related to the words ethic and ethical , which are typically used to refer to behavior that is or isn’t acceptable for a particular person.

In rhetoric, the word ethos is used to refer to the character or reputation of the speaker. As a rhetorical appeal, ethos is known as “the appeal to authority” or “the appeal to credibility.” When it comes to ethos , one important consideration is how the speaker carries themself and how they present themselves to the audience: Does it seem like they know what they are talking about? Do they even believe the words they are saying? Are they an expert? Do they have some experience or skills that tell us we should listen to them?

Ethos is important in rhetoric because it often influences the opinion or mood of the audience. If a speaker seems unenthusiastic, unprepared, or inexperienced, the audience is more likely to discount the speaker’s argument regardless of what it even is. On the other hand, a knowledgeable, authoritative, confident speaker is much more likely to win an audience over.

Ethos often depends on more than just the argument itself. For example, a speaker’s word choice, grammar, and diction also contribute to ethos ; an audience may react more favorably toward a professional speaker who has a good grasp of industry jargon and enunciates clearly versus a speaker who lacks the necessary vocabulary and fails to enunciate. Ethos can also be influenced by nonverbal factors as well, such as posture, body language, eye contact, and even the speaker’s choice of clothing. For example, a military officer proudly wearing their uniform bedecked with medals will go a long way to establishing ethos without them saying a single word.

Here as a simple example of ethos :

  • “As a former mayor of this city, I believe we can solve this crisis if we band together.”

The speaker uses ethos by alerting the audience of their credentials and experience. By doing so, they rely on their reputation to be more persuasive. This “as a…” method of establishing ethos is common, and you have probably seen it used in many persuasive advertisements and speeches.

What are open-ended questions and how can you use them effectively? Find out here.

What is pathos ?

In Greek, pathos literally translates to “suffering, experience, or sensation.” The word pathos is related to the words pathetic , sympathy , and empathy , which all have to do with emotions or emotional connections. Aristotle used the word pathos to refer to the emotional impact that an argument had on an audience; this usage is still mainly how pathos is used in rhetoric today.

As a rhetorical appeal, pathos is referred to as “the appeal to emotion.” Generally speaking, an author or speaker is using pathos when they are trying to persuade an audience by causing some kind of emotional reaction. When it comes to pathos , any and all emotions are on the table: sadness, fear, hope, joy, anger, lust, pity, etc.

As you probably know from your own life, emotions are a powerful motivating factor. For this reason, relying on pathos is often a smart and effective strategy for persuading an audience. Both positive and negative emotions can heavily influence an audience: for example, an audience will want to support a speaker whose position will make them happy, a speaker who wants to end their sadness, or a speaker who is opposed to something that makes them angry.

Here is a simple example of pathos :

  • “Every day, the rainforests shrink and innocent animals are killed. We must do something about this calamitous trend before the planet we call our home is damaged beyond repair.”

Here, the author is trying to win over an audience by making them feel sad, concerned, or afraid. The author’s choice of words like “innocent” and “calamitous” enforce the fact that they are trying to rely on pathos .

What is logos ?

In Greek, the word logos literally translates to “word, reason, or discourse.” The word logos is related to many different words that have to do with reason, discourse, or knowledge, such as logic , logical , and any words that end in the suffixes -logy or -logue .

As a mode of persuasion and rhetorical appeal, logos is often referred to as “the appeal to reason.” If a speaker or author is relying on logos , they are typically reciting facts or providing data and statistics that support their argument. In a manner of speaking, logos does away with all of the bells and whistles of ethos and pathos and cuts to the chase by trying to present a rational argument.

Logos can be effective in arguments because, in theory, it is impossible to argue against truth and facts. An audience is more likely to agree with a speaker who can provide strong, factual evidence that shows their position is correct. On the flip side, an audience is less likely to support an argument that is flawed or entirely wrong. Going further, a speaker that presents a lot of supporting evidence and data to the audience is likely to come across as knowledgeable and someone to be listened to, which earns bonus points in ethos as well.

While Aristotle clearly valued an argument based on reason very highly, we know that logos alone doesn’t always effectively persuade an audience. In your own life, you have likely seen a rational, correct speaker lose an argument to a charismatic, authoritative speaker who may not have the facts right.

Here is a simple example of logos :

  • “According to market research, sales of computer chips have increased by 300% in the last five years. Analysis of the industry tells us that the market share of computer chips is dominated by Asian manufacturers. It is clear that the Asian technology sector will continue to experience rapid growth for the foreseeable future.”

In this paragraph, the author is using data, statistics, and logical reasoning to make their argument. They clearly hope to use logos to try to convince an audience to agree with them.

Do you need persuading to take this quiz on identifying ethos, pathos, and logos? We think you’ll be a champion at it.

Examples of ethos , pathos , and logos

Ethos , pathos , and logos can all be employed to deliver compelling and persuasive arguments or to win over an audience. Let’s look at a variety of examples to see how different speakers and authors have turned to these modes of persuasion over the years.

“Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral. He was my friend, faithful and just to me […] You all did see that on the Lupercal I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?” —Marc Antony, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

In this scene, Marc Antony is trying to win over the Roman people, so Shakespeare has Antony rely on ethos . Antony is establishing himself as both a person of authority in Rome (having the power to offer Caesar a crown) and an expert on Caesar’s true character (Antony was Caesar’s close friend and advisor).

“During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story , and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance.” —Steve Jobs, 2005

Here, Steve Jobs is providing his background–via humblebrag – of being a major figure in several different highly successful tech companies. Jobs is using ethos to provide substance to his words and make it clear to the audience that he knows what he is talking about and they should listen to him.

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“Moreover, though you hate both him and his gifts with all your heart, yet pity the rest of the Achaeans who are being harassed in all their host; they will honour you as a god, and you will earn great glory at their hands. You might even kill Hector; he will come within your reach, for he is infatuated, and declares that not a Danaan whom the ships have brought can hold his own against him.” —Ulysses to Achilles, The Iliad by Homer

In this plea, Ulysses is doing his best to pile on the pathos . In one paragraph, Ulysses is attempting to appeal to several of Achilles’s emotions: his hatred of Hector, his infamous stubborn pride, his sympathy for civilians, and his desire for vengeance.

“I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest—quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality.” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

In this excerpt from his “I Have A Dream” speech, King is using pathos to accomplish two goals at once. First, he is connecting with his audience by making it clear is aware of their plight and suffering. Second, he is citing these examples to cause sadness or outrage in the audience. Both of these effects will make an audience interested in what he has to say and more likely to support his position.

Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech is recognizable and noteworthy for many reasons, including the rhetorical device he employs. Learn about it here.

“Let it be remembered how powerful the influence of a single introduced tree or mammal has been shown to be. But in the case of an island, or of a country partly surrounded by barriers, into which new and better adapted forms could not freely enter, we should then have places in the economy of nature which would assuredly be better filled up if some of the original inhabitants were in some manner modified; for, had the area been open to immigration, these same places would have been seized on by intruders. In such case, every slight modification, which in the course of ages chanced to arise, and which in any way favoured the individuals of any of the species, by better adapting them to their altered conditions, would tend to be preserved; and natural selection would have free scope for the work of improvement.” —Charles Darwin, On the Origin of the Species , 1859

In this passage, Darwin is using logos by presenting a rational argument in support of natural selection. Darwin connects natural selection to established scientific knowledge to argue that it makes logical sense that animals would adapt to better survive in their environment.

“I often echo the point made by the climate scientist James Hansen: The accumulation of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases—some of which will envelop the planet for hundreds and possibly thousands of years—is now trapping as much extra energy daily as 500,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs would release every 24 hours. This is the crisis we face.” —Al Gore, “The Climate Crisis Is the Battle of Our Time, and We Can Win,” 2019

In this call to action, Al Gore uses logos to attempt to convince his audience of the significance of climate change. In order to do this, Gore both cites an expert in the field and provides a scientifically accurate simile to explain the scale of the effect that greenhouse gases have on Earth’s atmosphere.

What are mythos and kairos ?

Some modern scholars may also use terms mythos and kairos when discussing modes of persuasion or rhetoric in general.

Aristotle used the term mythos to refer to the plot or story structure of Greek tragedies, i.e., how a playwright ordered the events of the story to affect the audience. Today, mythos is most often discussed as a literary or poetic term rather than a rhetorical one. However, mythos may rarely be referred to as the “appeal to culture” or the “appeal to myth” if it is treated as an additional mode of persuasion. According to this viewpoint, a speaker/writer is using mythos if they try to persuade an audience using shared cultural customs or societal values.

A commonly cited example of mythos is King’s “I Have a Dream” speech quoted earlier. King says:

“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men—yes, black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable rights’ of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ ”

Throughout the speech, King repeatedly uses American symbols and American history ( mythos ) to argue that all Americans should be outraged that Black Americans have been denied freedom and civil rights.

Some modern scholars may also consider kairos as an additional mode of persuasion. Kairos is usually defined as referring to the specific time and place that a speaker chooses to deliver their speech. For written rhetoric, the “place” instead refers to the specific medium or publication in which a piece of writing appears.

Unlike the other modes of persuasion, kairos relates to the context of a speech and how the appropriateness (or not) of a setting affects how effective a speaker is. Once again, King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is a great example of the use of kairos . This speech was delivered at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at the end of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Clearly, King intended to use kairos to enhance the importance and timeliness of this landmark speech.

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Examples of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Persuasive Speeches

examples of ethos pathos logos

Ever fumbled for words while convincing someone to sign up for your club or buy something you're promoting on stage?

It happens. For this reason, Aristotle came up with three essential tools you can use in your everyday speech to persuade people for almost anything: ethos, pathos, and logos.

Here are some vivid examples of ethos, pathos, and logos to help you understand what they are and how to use them in your arguments.

The Three Tools That Guide Your Speech

Ethos, pathos, and logos are Greek words that make up the rhetorical triangle. Aristotle was the first to come up with them and wrote these concepts in his book, Rhetoric .

You can use them in any argument if you want to drive your point across or sell something: an idea, a product, or a brand.

Whether it is a sales pitch, a compelling argument, or a speech, these three modes of persuasion can sway your audience's perspective. Their presence since ancient times depicts their strength and significance.

Ethos is Greek for “character,” "credibility," or "authority." It refers to a person's character when they are presenting an argument.

The stronger the character or, the more influential the speaker is, the more they can change someone’s point of view regarding a particular subject.

You wouldn’t be enraptured, hanging on to her every word when J.K Rowling was giving a TED talk if she wasn’t a famous author, right?

Therefore, many brands and companies try to get celebrities to advertise for them. When people become fans, they religiously love what the celebrity loves and hates what the celebrity doesn't like.

This is the power of ethos. Here is how to establish ethos in a speech .

examples of ethos

There are tons of examples of ethos in advertisements, movies, speeches, and daily life. Highlighted below are some of them.

Albus Dumbledor used ethos in the movie The Goblet of Fire when he went against the Ministry of Magic to tell his students how Cedric Diggory died. He knew they would believe him because he was Headmaster. He said:

"I think, therefore, you have the right to know exactly how he died. You see, Cedric Diggory was murdered by Lord Voldemort. The Ministry of Magic does not wish me to tell you this. But I think to do so would be an insult to his memory."

In a commercial, you’d see 4 out of 5 dentists recommending a particular toothpaste. That's how brands convince viewers to buy their products by backing them up with credible people.

As a physics student, you tune in to a TED talk by Brian Greene and believe everything he says because he’s a theoretical physicist and a string theorist.

Pathos is Greek for “emotion,” “suffering,” or “experience.” This rhetorical strategy appeals to people's feelings when used in an argument.

It invokes people’s senses, nostalgia, memory, and experiences. It is used in ads and videos to persuade people to follow a call to action.

When pathos is embedded in a message, it moves people, driving them to take action. Pathos can trigger any intended emotion in people, such as sympathy, pity, and empathy.

Why do you think romance sells so much, be it novels, movies, or stories? It pulls at the reader’s heartstrings, connects them to the characters, and makes them want something similar.

Below are some examples of pathos in everyday life, movies, and ads.

An excellent way to convince people to donate to a puppy shelter is to show them how brutally they'll die if they don't donate.

The Evian commercial in which adults look like toddlers when they look at their reflections depicts the "bandwagon effect." Light-heartedly, it uses feel-good emotion to convince people to buy their water.

In their ad, IKEA convinces people to opt for home delivery for £3.95 by showing a person stuck in traffic after buying from the brand. This appeals to people because we like comfort, right?

Unlike ethos and pathos, logos rely on logic. It is a Greek word that means “logic” or “reason.” It uses logical reasons to convince people about something.

When you use logos in your everyday speech or arguments, you try to mention facts or data to support your idea.


While ethos uses the speaker's credibility to persuade people about something, pathos uses emotion to trigger people. Logos simply relies on logic and cuts to the chase.

You can easily persuade an audience using reason and logic in your argument; however, emotions do get the best of us as humans. For this reason, there are three modes of persuasion.

The following are a few examples of Logos.

Al Gore, a renowned environmentalist, used logos in his speech “The Climate Crisis Is the Battle of Our Time, and We Can Win,” in 2019. He tells people what exactly is happening that is causing climate change and cites scientific research and experts in his speech as well:

"I often echo the point made by the climate scientist James Hansen: The accumulation of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases—some of which will envelop the planet for hundreds and possibly thousands of years—is now trapping as much extra energy daily as 500,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs would release every 24 hours. This is the crisis we face."

In the Versatile Stain Remover ad by OxiClean, you see Billy Mays use the stain remover to clean different products to showcase the product's ability as a stain remover.

An iPhone commercial shows the smartphone's different features that make it stand out from the rest.

Some More Examples of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

Almost everyone uses these three modes of persuasion in one form or the other in their arguments. Let’s see how famous people have used them through time.

"During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife.

Pixar went on to create the world's first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story and is now the most successful animation studio in the world.

In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance."

—Steve Jobs, 2005

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, relies heavily on ethos here. He uses his authority as a founder of successful tech companies to show people why they should listen to him.

"I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations.

Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality."

—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

Martin Luther King Jr. was famous for fighting for civil rights. In the above excerpt from his speech “I Have a Dream,” he uses pathos to empathize with his audience.

He informs them that he understands they have suffered a lot and have come out of a painful time. This evokes emotion in the audience, and they can connect with King easily.

"Let it be remembered how powerful the influence of a single introduced tree or mammal has been shown to be.

But in the case of an island, or of a country partly surrounded by barriers, into which new and better-adapted forms could not freely enter, we should then have places in the economy of nature that would assuredly be better filled up if some of the original inhabitants were in some manner modified; for, had the area been open to immigration, these same places would have been seized on by intruders.

In such a case, every slight modification, which in the course of ages chanced to arise, and which in any way favored the individuals of any of the species by better adapting them to their altered conditions, would tend to be preserved; and natural selection would have free scope for the work of improvement."

—Charles Darwin, On the Origin of the Species, 1859

Charles Darwin appeals to logic or logos in his book Origin of the Species by talking about the rationale of natural selection.

He talks about how species have evolved with time to better adapt to their environment, a.k.a survival of the fittest. You can see how he uses a logical argument to talk about natural selection.

Conclusion: Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Ethos, pathos, and logos have survived the test of time and are used almost everywhere today. You can find them embedded in commercials, movies, speeches, TED talks, and day-to-day arguments.

These three tools of persuasion appeal to different aspects of humanity: authority, emotion, and logic. When used together, they form a solid argument that can convince anyone of its gist.

Ethos uses the speaker’s authority or credibility to persuade the audience. Pathos uses emotion to trigger people to take action. On the other hand, logos rely on facts and logic to drive a point across.

All three are very important to use in any argument.


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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 3 strong argumentative essay examples, analyzed.

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General Education


Need to defend your opinion on an issue? Argumentative essays are one of the most popular types of essays you’ll write in school. They combine persuasive arguments with fact-based research, and, when done well, can be powerful tools for making someone agree with your point of view. If you’re struggling to write an argumentative essay or just want to learn more about them, seeing examples can be a big help.

After giving an overview of this type of essay, we provide three argumentative essay examples. After each essay, we explain in-depth how the essay was structured, what worked, and where the essay could be improved. We end with tips for making your own argumentative essay as strong as possible.

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is an essay that uses evidence and facts to support the claim it’s making. Its purpose is to persuade the reader to agree with the argument being made.

A good argumentative essay will use facts and evidence to support the argument, rather than just the author’s thoughts and opinions. For example, say you wanted to write an argumentative essay stating that Charleston, SC is a great destination for families. You couldn’t just say that it’s a great place because you took your family there and enjoyed it. For it to be an argumentative essay, you need to have facts and data to support your argument, such as the number of child-friendly attractions in Charleston, special deals you can get with kids, and surveys of people who visited Charleston as a family and enjoyed it. The first argument is based entirely on feelings, whereas the second is based on evidence that can be proven.

The standard five paragraph format is common, but not required, for argumentative essays. These essays typically follow one of two formats: the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model.

  • The Toulmin model is the most common. It begins with an introduction, follows with a thesis/claim, and gives data and evidence to support that claim. This style of essay also includes rebuttals of counterarguments.
  • The Rogerian model analyzes two sides of an argument and reaches a conclusion after weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each.

3 Good Argumentative Essay Examples + Analysis

Below are three examples of argumentative essays, written by yours truly in my school days, as well as analysis of what each did well and where it could be improved.

Argumentative Essay Example 1

Proponents of this idea state that it will save local cities and towns money because libraries are expensive to maintain. They also believe it will encourage more people to read because they won’t have to travel to a library to get a book; they can simply click on what they want to read and read it from wherever they are. They could also access more materials because libraries won’t have to buy physical copies of books; they can simply rent out as many digital copies as they need.

However, it would be a serious mistake to replace libraries with tablets. First, digital books and resources are associated with less learning and more problems than print resources. A study done on tablet vs book reading found that people read 20-30% slower on tablets, retain 20% less information, and understand 10% less of what they read compared to people who read the same information in print. Additionally, staring too long at a screen has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including blurred vision, dizziness, dry eyes, headaches, and eye strain, at much higher instances than reading print does. People who use tablets and mobile devices excessively also have a higher incidence of more serious health issues such as fibromyalgia, shoulder and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle strain. I know that whenever I read from my e-reader for too long, my eyes begin to feel tired and my neck hurts. We should not add to these problems by giving people, especially young people, more reasons to look at screens.

Second, it is incredibly narrow-minded to assume that the only service libraries offer is book lending. Libraries have a multitude of benefits, and many are only available if the library has a physical location. Some of these benefits include acting as a quiet study space, giving people a way to converse with their neighbors, holding classes on a variety of topics, providing jobs, answering patron questions, and keeping the community connected. One neighborhood found that, after a local library instituted community events such as play times for toddlers and parents, job fairs for teenagers, and meeting spaces for senior citizens, over a third of residents reported feeling more connected to their community. Similarly, a Pew survey conducted in 2015 found that nearly two-thirds of American adults feel that closing their local library would have a major impact on their community. People see libraries as a way to connect with others and get their questions answered, benefits tablets can’t offer nearly as well or as easily.

While replacing libraries with tablets may seem like a simple solution, it would encourage people to spend even more time looking at digital screens, despite the myriad issues surrounding them. It would also end access to many of the benefits of libraries that people have come to rely on. In many areas, libraries are such an important part of the community network that they could never be replaced by a simple object.

The author begins by giving an overview of the counter-argument, then the thesis appears as the first sentence in the third paragraph. The essay then spends the rest of the paper dismantling the counter argument and showing why readers should believe the other side.

What this essay does well:

  • Although it’s a bit unusual to have the thesis appear fairly far into the essay, it works because, once the thesis is stated, the rest of the essay focuses on supporting it since the counter-argument has already been discussed earlier in the paper.
  • This essay includes numerous facts and cites studies to support its case. By having specific data to rely on, the author’s argument is stronger and readers will be more inclined to agree with it.
  • For every argument the other side makes, the author makes sure to refute it and follow up with why her opinion is the stronger one. In order to make a strong argument, it’s important to dismantle the other side, which this essay does this by making the author's view appear stronger.
  • This is a shorter paper, and if it needed to be expanded to meet length requirements, it could include more examples and go more into depth with them, such as by explaining specific cases where people benefited from local libraries.
  • Additionally, while the paper uses lots of data, the author also mentions their own experience with using tablets. This should be removed since argumentative essays focus on facts and data to support an argument, not the author’s own opinion or experiences. Replacing that with more data on health issues associated with screen time would strengthen the essay.
  • Some of the points made aren't completely accurate , particularly the one about digital books being cheaper. It actually often costs a library more money to rent out numerous digital copies of a book compared to buying a single physical copy. Make sure in your own essay you thoroughly research each of the points and rebuttals you make, otherwise you'll look like you don't know the issue that well.


Argumentative Essay Example 2

There are multiple drugs available to treat malaria, and many of them work well and save lives, but malaria eradication programs that focus too much on them and not enough on prevention haven’t seen long-term success in Sub-Saharan Africa. A major program to combat malaria was WHO’s Global Malaria Eradication Programme. Started in 1955, it had a goal of eliminating malaria in Africa within the next ten years. Based upon previously successful programs in Brazil and the United States, the program focused mainly on vector control. This included widely distributing chloroquine and spraying large amounts of DDT. More than one billion dollars was spent trying to abolish malaria. However, the program suffered from many problems and in 1969, WHO was forced to admit that the program had not succeeded in eradicating malaria. The number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa who contracted malaria as well as the number of malaria deaths had actually increased over 10% during the time the program was active.

One of the major reasons for the failure of the project was that it set uniform strategies and policies. By failing to consider variations between governments, geography, and infrastructure, the program was not nearly as successful as it could have been. Sub-Saharan Africa has neither the money nor the infrastructure to support such an elaborate program, and it couldn’t be run the way it was meant to. Most African countries don't have the resources to send all their people to doctors and get shots, nor can they afford to clear wetlands or other malaria prone areas. The continent’s spending per person for eradicating malaria was just a quarter of what Brazil spent. Sub-Saharan Africa simply can’t rely on a plan that requires more money, infrastructure, and expertise than they have to spare.

Additionally, the widespread use of chloroquine has created drug resistant parasites which are now plaguing Sub-Saharan Africa. Because chloroquine was used widely but inconsistently, mosquitoes developed resistance, and chloroquine is now nearly completely ineffective in Sub-Saharan Africa, with over 95% of mosquitoes resistant to it. As a result, newer, more expensive drugs need to be used to prevent and treat malaria, which further drives up the cost of malaria treatment for a region that can ill afford it.

Instead of developing plans to treat malaria after the infection has incurred, programs should focus on preventing infection from occurring in the first place. Not only is this plan cheaper and more effective, reducing the number of people who contract malaria also reduces loss of work/school days which can further bring down the productivity of the region.

One of the cheapest and most effective ways of preventing malaria is to implement insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs).  These nets provide a protective barrier around the person or people using them. While untreated bed nets are still helpful, those treated with insecticides are much more useful because they stop mosquitoes from biting people through the nets, and they help reduce mosquito populations in a community, thus helping people who don’t even own bed nets.  Bed nets are also very effective because most mosquito bites occur while the person is sleeping, so bed nets would be able to drastically reduce the number of transmissions during the night. In fact, transmission of malaria can be reduced by as much as 90% in areas where the use of ITNs is widespread. Because money is so scarce in Sub-Saharan Africa, the low cost is a great benefit and a major reason why the program is so successful. Bed nets cost roughly 2 USD to make, last several years, and can protect two adults. Studies have shown that, for every 100-1000 more nets are being used, one less child dies of malaria. With an estimated 300 million people in Africa not being protected by mosquito nets, there’s the potential to save three million lives by spending just a few dollars per person.

Reducing the number of people who contract malaria would also reduce poverty levels in Africa significantly, thus improving other aspects of society like education levels and the economy. Vector control is more effective than treatment strategies because it means fewer people are getting sick. When fewer people get sick, the working population is stronger as a whole because people are not put out of work from malaria, nor are they caring for sick relatives. Malaria-afflicted families can typically only harvest 40% of the crops that healthy families can harvest. Additionally, a family with members who have malaria spends roughly a quarter of its income treatment, not including the loss of work they also must deal with due to the illness. It’s estimated that malaria costs Africa 12 billion USD in lost income every year. A strong working population creates a stronger economy, which Sub-Saharan Africa is in desperate need of.  

This essay begins with an introduction, which ends with the thesis (that malaria eradication plans in Sub-Saharan Africa should focus on prevention rather than treatment). The first part of the essay lays out why the counter argument (treatment rather than prevention) is not as effective, and the second part of the essay focuses on why prevention of malaria is the better path to take.

  • The thesis appears early, is stated clearly, and is supported throughout the rest of the essay. This makes the argument clear for readers to understand and follow throughout the essay.
  • There’s lots of solid research in this essay, including specific programs that were conducted and how successful they were, as well as specific data mentioned throughout. This evidence helps strengthen the author’s argument.
  • The author makes a case for using expanding bed net use over waiting until malaria occurs and beginning treatment, but not much of a plan is given for how the bed nets would be distributed or how to ensure they’re being used properly. By going more into detail of what she believes should be done, the author would be making a stronger argument.
  • The introduction of the essay does a good job of laying out the seriousness of the problem, but the conclusion is short and abrupt. Expanding it into its own paragraph would give the author a final way to convince readers of her side of the argument.


Argumentative Essay Example 3

There are many ways payments could work. They could be in the form of a free-market approach, where athletes are able to earn whatever the market is willing to pay them, it could be a set amount of money per athlete, or student athletes could earn income from endorsements, autographs, and control of their likeness, similar to the way top Olympians earn money.

Proponents of the idea believe that, because college athletes are the ones who are training, participating in games, and bringing in audiences, they should receive some sort of compensation for their work. If there were no college athletes, the NCAA wouldn’t exist, college coaches wouldn’t receive there (sometimes very high) salaries, and brands like Nike couldn’t profit from college sports. In fact, the NCAA brings in roughly $1 billion in revenue a year, but college athletes don’t receive any of that money in the form of a paycheck. Additionally, people who believe college athletes should be paid state that paying college athletes will actually encourage them to remain in college longer and not turn pro as quickly, either by giving them a way to begin earning money in college or requiring them to sign a contract stating they’ll stay at the university for a certain number of years while making an agreed-upon salary.  

Supporters of this idea point to Zion Williamson, the Duke basketball superstar, who, during his freshman year, sustained a serious knee injury. Many argued that, even if he enjoyed playing for Duke, it wasn’t worth risking another injury and ending his professional career before it even began for a program that wasn’t paying him. Williamson seems to have agreed with them and declared his eligibility for the NCAA draft later that year. If he was being paid, he may have stayed at Duke longer. In fact, roughly a third of student athletes surveyed stated that receiving a salary while in college would make them “strongly consider” remaining collegiate athletes longer before turning pro.

Paying athletes could also stop the recruitment scandals that have plagued the NCAA. In 2018, the NCAA stripped the University of Louisville's men's basketball team of its 2013 national championship title because it was discovered coaches were using sex workers to entice recruits to join the team. There have been dozens of other recruitment scandals where college athletes and recruits have been bribed with anything from having their grades changed, to getting free cars, to being straight out bribed. By paying college athletes and putting their salaries out in the open, the NCAA could end the illegal and underhanded ways some schools and coaches try to entice athletes to join.

People who argue against the idea of paying college athletes believe the practice could be disastrous for college sports. By paying athletes, they argue, they’d turn college sports into a bidding war, where only the richest schools could afford top athletes, and the majority of schools would be shut out from developing a talented team (though some argue this already happens because the best players often go to the most established college sports programs, who typically pay their coaches millions of dollars per year). It could also ruin the tight camaraderie of many college teams if players become jealous that certain teammates are making more money than they are.

They also argue that paying college athletes actually means only a small fraction would make significant money. Out of the 350 Division I athletic departments, fewer than a dozen earn any money. Nearly all the money the NCAA makes comes from men’s football and basketball, so paying college athletes would make a small group of men--who likely will be signed to pro teams and begin making millions immediately out of college--rich at the expense of other players.

Those against paying college athletes also believe that the athletes are receiving enough benefits already. The top athletes already receive scholarships that are worth tens of thousands per year, they receive free food/housing/textbooks, have access to top medical care if they are injured, receive top coaching, get travel perks and free gear, and can use their time in college as a way to capture the attention of professional recruiters. No other college students receive anywhere near as much from their schools.

People on this side also point out that, while the NCAA brings in a massive amount of money each year, it is still a non-profit organization. How? Because over 95% of those profits are redistributed to its members’ institutions in the form of scholarships, grants, conferences, support for Division II and Division III teams, and educational programs. Taking away a significant part of that revenue would hurt smaller programs that rely on that money to keep running.

While both sides have good points, it’s clear that the negatives of paying college athletes far outweigh the positives. College athletes spend a significant amount of time and energy playing for their school, but they are compensated for it by the scholarships and perks they receive. Adding a salary to that would result in a college athletic system where only a small handful of athletes (those likely to become millionaires in the professional leagues) are paid by a handful of schools who enter bidding wars to recruit them, while the majority of student athletics and college athletic programs suffer or even shut down for lack of money. Continuing to offer the current level of benefits to student athletes makes it possible for as many people to benefit from and enjoy college sports as possible.

This argumentative essay follows the Rogerian model. It discusses each side, first laying out multiple reasons people believe student athletes should be paid, then discussing reasons why the athletes shouldn’t be paid. It ends by stating that college athletes shouldn’t be paid by arguing that paying them would destroy college athletics programs and cause them to have many of the issues professional sports leagues have.

  • Both sides of the argument are well developed, with multiple reasons why people agree with each side. It allows readers to get a full view of the argument and its nuances.
  • Certain statements on both sides are directly rebuffed in order to show where the strengths and weaknesses of each side lie and give a more complete and sophisticated look at the argument.
  • Using the Rogerian model can be tricky because oftentimes you don’t explicitly state your argument until the end of the paper. Here, the thesis doesn’t appear until the first sentence of the final paragraph. That doesn’t give readers a lot of time to be convinced that your argument is the right one, compared to a paper where the thesis is stated in the beginning and then supported throughout the paper. This paper could be strengthened if the final paragraph was expanded to more fully explain why the author supports the view, or if the paper had made it clearer that paying athletes was the weaker argument throughout.


3 Tips for Writing a Good Argumentative Essay

Now that you’ve seen examples of what good argumentative essay samples look like, follow these three tips when crafting your own essay.

#1: Make Your Thesis Crystal Clear

The thesis is the key to your argumentative essay; if it isn’t clear or readers can’t find it easily, your entire essay will be weak as a result. Always make sure that your thesis statement is easy to find. The typical spot for it is the final sentence of the introduction paragraph, but if it doesn’t fit in that spot for your essay, try to at least put it as the first or last sentence of a different paragraph so it stands out more.

Also make sure that your thesis makes clear what side of the argument you’re on. After you’ve written it, it’s a great idea to show your thesis to a couple different people--classmates are great for this. Just by reading your thesis they should be able to understand what point you’ll be trying to make with the rest of your essay.

#2: Show Why the Other Side Is Weak

When writing your essay, you may be tempted to ignore the other side of the argument and just focus on your side, but don’t do this. The best argumentative essays really tear apart the other side to show why readers shouldn’t believe it. Before you begin writing your essay, research what the other side believes, and what their strongest points are. Then, in your essay, be sure to mention each of these and use evidence to explain why they’re incorrect/weak arguments. That’ll make your essay much more effective than if you only focused on your side of the argument.

#3: Use Evidence to Support Your Side

Remember, an essay can’t be an argumentative essay if it doesn’t support its argument with evidence. For every point you make, make sure you have facts to back it up. Some examples are previous studies done on the topic, surveys of large groups of people, data points, etc. There should be lots of numbers in your argumentative essay that support your side of the argument. This will make your essay much stronger compared to only relying on your own opinions to support your argument.

Summary: Argumentative Essay Sample

Argumentative essays are persuasive essays that use facts and evidence to support their side of the argument. Most argumentative essays follow either the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model. By reading good argumentative essay examples, you can learn how to develop your essay and provide enough support to make readers agree with your opinion. When writing your essay, remember to always make your thesis clear, show where the other side is weak, and back up your opinion with data and evidence.

What's Next?

Do you need to write an argumentative essay as well? Check out our guide on the best argumentative essay topics for ideas!

You'll probably also need to write research papers for school. We've got you covered with 113 potential topics for research papers.

Your college admissions essay may end up being one of the most important essays you write. Follow our step-by-step guide on writing a personal statement to have an essay that'll impress colleges.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essay generator.

pathos in argumentative essay examples

It may be a little bit confusing writing an argumentative essay especially if it is for academic purposes. You should be loaded with facts or verified information to prove your point. Every argument needs an interesting topic for you to keep going with your entire work.

What is an Argumentative Essay? An argumentative essay is a type of writing that presents a clear argument or position on a specific topic, supported by evidence and reasoning. The goal is to persuade the reader to understand and perhaps agree with the writer’s point of view. This essay typically includes a clear thesis statement, structured arguments, factual evidence, and a rebuttal to opposing viewpoints. The effectiveness of an argumentative essay lies in its ability to logically and coherently argue a point, while addressing and countering potential counterarguments.

Format/Structure of Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay typically follows a clear and structured format to present and support an argument effectively. Here’s a breakdown of its essential components:


Hook : Begin with a compelling statement, question, or fact to grab the reader’s attention. Background Information : Provide context or background necessary to understand the topic or argument. Thesis Statement : Clearly state your main argument or position on the topic. This should be precise, debatable, and convey the essence of your essay.

Body Paragraphs

Paragraph 1 : Start with your strongest point or most convincing argument. Provide evidence (facts, statistics, studies, quotes) to support it. Paragraph 2 and Beyond : Continue with subsequent arguments, each in its own paragraph. Ensure each point logically follows the previous one and adds weight to your overall argument. Counterargument : Address a potential counterargument to your thesis, then refute it with logic, evidence, or both. This shows you’ve considered multiple viewpoints.
Restate Thesis : Reaffirm your thesis statement, but in different words. Summarize Key Points : Briefly recap the main arguments you presented. Call to Action or Final Thought : End with a thought-provoking statement, question, or call to action that encourages further thinking or action on the topic.

The Best Example of Argumentative Essay

Title: The Necessity of Environmental Conservation Introduction The planet’s environmental health is a concern that affects all of humanity. Despite differing opinions, the need for environmental conservation is imperative for the following reasons: the survival of future generations, the balance of ecosystems, and the preservation of natural beauty. Thesis Statement Environmental conservation is not just a moral duty but a necessary action for the survival and prosperity of our planet and future generations. Body Paragraph 1: Survival of Future Generations Firstly, conserving the environment ensures the survival of future generations. Practices such as reducing carbon emissions and protecting natural habitats are crucial. For instance, reducing carbon emissions minimizes the greenhouse effect, directly impacting global warming and climate change. Body Paragraph 2: Balance of Ecosystems Secondly, the conservation of the environment is essential for maintaining the balance of ecosystems. Human activities have led to the extinction of numerous species. Preserving natural habitats helps maintain biodiversity, which is vital for ecological balance, as emphasized in a study by the World Wildlife Fund. Body Paragraph 3: Preservation of Natural Beauty Lastly, environmental conservation is important for preserving the natural beauty of the planet. Natural landscapes like forests, oceans, and mountains not only have aesthetic value but also contribute to human well-being, as suggested by numerous psychological studies. Counterargument and Rebuttal Some argue that economic development should take precedence over environmental conservation. However, sustainable development models show that economic growth does not have to be at the environment’s expense. Green technologies and eco-friendly practices can lead to economic prosperity while preserving the environment. Conclusion In conclusion, environmental conservation is a critical necessity. It ensures the survival of future generations, maintains ecological balance, and preserves the planet’s intrinsic beauty. The path towards sustainable development is not only possible but essential, aligning economic growth with environmental stewardship.

Argumentative Essay Topics with Samples

  • The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health
  • Should Vaccinations be Mandatory for Public Health?
  • The Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Future of Work
  • Climate Change: Myth or Reality?
  • The Ethics of Genetic Editing in Humans
  • Universal Basic Income: Solution to Economic Inequality?
  • The Influence of Video Games on Youth Behavior
  • Animal Testing: Necessary Evil or Outdated Practice?
  • Is Remote Learning Effective in Education?
  • The Debate on Gun Control Laws in the United States
  • The Pros and Cons of Capital Punishment
  • Privacy vs. Security in the Age of Surveillance
  • The Cultural Impact of Globalization
  • Vegetarianism and Veganism: Dietary Choice or Moral Obligation?
  • The Rise of Cryptocurrencies: Future of Finance or Speculative Bubble?

Types of Argumentative Essay and How to Use Them?

Argumentative essays can be categorized into different types based on the approach and purpose of the argument. Understanding these types helps in crafting a more effective and targeted essay:

Classical (Aristotelian) Argumentative Essay

Rooted in the principles of Aristotle, this type of essay presents a clear, direct argument. It starts with an introduction of the topic, followed by the presentation of the writer’s position. The body provides logical reasoning and evidence supporting the argument, and it addresses and refutes counterarguments. The conclusion reinforces the thesis and sums up the argument.

Use this style for topics that can be argued logically and objectively. It’s effective in academic writing and debates where clear, rational arguments are needed.

Rogerian Argumentative Essay

This approach, based on the psychology of Carl Rogers, emphasizes understanding and finding common ground with the opposing viewpoint. Instead of outright refuting the opposing views, the writer acknowledges their validity and seeks a compromise or integrative solution.

Ideal for contentious or polarizing topics where bridging opposing views is important. It’s useful in emotionally charged debates where acknowledging different perspectives can lead to a more balanced conclusion.

Toulmin Argumentative Essay

Developed by Stephen Toulmin, this model focuses on constructing a clear and logical argument. It consists of six elements: claim, grounds (evidence), warrant (link between the claim and evidence), backing (support for the warrant), qualifier (limits of the claim), and rebuttal (addressing counterarguments).

Employ this method for complex arguments that require detailed analysis. It’s suitable for scientific or technical discussions where each aspect of the argument must be logically validated.

Persuasive Argumentative Essay

This type aims to persuade the audience to the writer’s point of view through emotional appeal and moral reasoning. It uses strong, emotive language and persuasive techniques like anecdotes, rhetorical questions, and sometimes, dramatic illustrations to sway the reader’s opinion.

Best for topics related to personal beliefs, values, or when the goal is to influence public opinion. Effective in speeches, advertising, and situations where emotional impact is crucial.

9+ Argumentative Essay Outline Examples

1. argumentative pattern essay outline.

Argumentative Pattern Essay Outline

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2. Argumentative Classical Model Essay Outline

Argumentative Classical Model Essay Outline

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3. Argumentative Essay Writing Outline

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6. Sample Argumentative Essay Outline

Sample Argumentative Essay Outline

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Argumentative Essay of Debatable Outline

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9. Editable Argumentative Essay Outline

Editable Argumentative Essay Outline

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10. Printable Argumentative Essay Outline

Printable Argumentative Essay Outline

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Elements of an Argumentative Essay

Introduction  .

this is the first part of your paper where you are going to talk about a certain issue in a way that you can grab the attention of your audience.

In your introduction, you should provide an opening line that will keep your readers stuck into your work until the end.

this is the summary of your main idea supported by evidences

This is located at the end of your first paragraph. Every point you take in your argumentative essay must be related to the thesis statement that you wrote.

these were also referred to as “claims”. This is all about the data and facts that you use to prove your point.


this justifies or explains your evidence. In your argumentative essay, you have to provide at least three paragraphs of supporting details that backs up your evidence.

Opposing argument  

this is also called “refutation” that proves your opinion may not be true. Unlike any other essays like in a persuasive essay, an argumentative essay will let you see through the other side of the matter. Your work will appear stronger since it will be weighing two different stands whether which argument is more believable.


this is the summary of your entire argument including your main idea and the evidence. Always take note that you have to provide a concise conclusion.

You may want to check an example of a good argumentative essay below.

“The first objection last week came from the National Organization for Women and the New York Civil Liberties Union, both of which opposed the opening of TYWLS in the fall of 1996. The two groups continue to insist – as though it were 1896 and they were arguing Plessy V. Ferguson – that separate can never be equal. I appreciate NOW’s wariness of the Bush administration’s endorsement of single-sex public schools, since I am of the generation that still considers the label “feminist” to be a compliment – and many feminist still fear that any public acknowledgement of differences between the sexes will hinder their fight for equality.” – Boys Here, Girls There: Sure, If Equality’s the Goal (by Karen Stabiner) “We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be. We want to customize our lives. We want to move in and out of where we are because the thing we value most is control over where we focus our attention. We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party.” – The Flight from Conversation (by Sherry Turkle)

What makes a good argumentative essay?

A good argumentative essay has focuses on facts rather than opinions and clear evidence that supports your claim.

How long is an argumentative essay?

It depends on how long your introduction, supporting facts and conclusion is.

Do I still need to provide a reference in my argumentative essay?

Every type of writing must have a reference page.

Argumentative essays must be supplied with strong arguments to convince the readers more about a debatable issue. It should contain elements such as introduction, thesis, evidence, justification, opposing argument and conclusion.


Text prompt

  • Instructive
  • Professional

Write an argumentative essay on whether school uniforms should be mandatory.

Discuss in an argumentative essay if animals should be kept in zoos.

Argumentative Social Media

This essay about creating an effective hook for an argumentative essay explores various strategies to engage readers from the outset. It emphasizes the importance of the hook in making a strong first impression and sustaining the reader’s interest throughout the essay. The essay describes several techniques for crafting a compelling hook, including the use of personal anecdotes, startling statistics, rhetorical questions, and poignant quotes from well-known figures. Each method is designed to draw readers into the conversation, making them eager to explore the argument further. The essay underscores the significance of understanding both the topic and the audience to tailor the hook accordingly, ensuring it is both relevant and thought-provoking.

How it works

Starting off an argumentative essay with the right hook is a bit like landing the first punch in a friendly boxing match: it needs to be strong, surprising, and strategic, making sure to grab your reader’s attention and keep them engaged. Think of your hook as the first taste of a meal—it should be delicious enough to intrigue the diner and make them crave more. Let’s break down how to concoct a hook that does just that.

Let’s say you’re writing about the impact of climate change on local communities.

You might kick off with something personal and vivid: “Last year, the rising sea levels turned the streets of my childhood beach town into a wistful underwater museum.” This isn’t just another climate statistic—it’s a snapshot of life altered by environmental change, inviting the reader to view a global issue through a deeply personal lens.

If personal anecdotes aren’t quite right for your topic, striking statistics can do wonders. They throw hard facts into the mix right from the get-go, setting a foundation that’s hard to ignore. For instance, if you’re discussing digital privacy, you might start with, “Imagine waking up to find out that 70% of the apps on your phone could be peeking into your personal life without your clear consent.” It’s a statistic, but it’s also a call to arms, nudging the reader to think about their personal stakes in a broader debate.

Rhetorical questions can also be a dynamite choice. They pull readers into a state of reflection, urging them to ponder the essay’s subject matter before you’ve even presented your argument. An essay on the ethics of animal testing might begin with, “What if the price of your favorite lipstick was not just a few dollars, but a few animal lives as well?” It’s provocative, pushing readers to consider the moral dimensions of everyday choices.

And let’s not underestimate the power of a good quote. A well-chosen line from a notable figure can lend credibility and set the stage for your argument. Opening your discussion on civil liberties with a quote like Benjamin Franklin’s, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” frames your argument within a historical context, challenging readers to consider their own values in light of past wisdom.

Ultimately, the secret sauce to crafting an irresistible hook is knowing your topic and your audience well. It’s about sparking curiosity and framing your argument in a way that’s impossible to ignore. Whether you use an anecdote, a startling fact, a rhetorical question, or a poignant quote, your opening should make the reader not just want but need to read on. After all, the best conversations start with a great opening line, and your essay deserves nothing less.


Cite this page

Argumentative social media. (2024, May 01). Retrieved from

"Argumentative social media." , 1 May 2024, (2024). Argumentative social media . [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 10 May. 2024]

"Argumentative social media.", May 01, 2024. Accessed May 10, 2024.

"Argumentative social media," , 01-May-2024. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 10-May-2024] (2024). Argumentative social media . [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 10-May-2024]

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