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Pathos, Logos, and Ethos

Most people are able to drive a car without fully understanding how the car operates. Making an argument is the same way. Most of us attempt to persuade people every day without understanding how persuasion works. Learning how a strong argument is crafted empowers us to better communicate and persuade others to understand our viewpoints.

What Are Pathos, Logos, and Ethos?

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos are three strategies commonly employed when attempting to persuade a reader.

Pathos , or the appeal to emotion, means to persuade an audience by purposely evoking certain emotions to make them feel the way the author wants them to feel. Authors make deliberate word choices, use meaningful language, and use examples and stories that evoke emotion. Authors can desire a range of emotional responses, including sympathy, anger, frustration, or even amusement.

Logos , or the appeal to logic, means to appeal to the audiences’ sense of reason or logic. To use logos, the author makes clear, logical connections between ideas, and includes the use of facts and statistics. Using historical and literal analogies to make a logical argument is another strategy. There should be no holes in the argument, also known as logical fallacies, which are unclear or wrong assumptions or connections between ideas.

Ethos is used to convey the writer’s credibility and authority. When evaluating a piece of writing, the reader must know if the writer is qualified to comment on this issue. The writer can communicate their authority by using credible sources; choosing appropriate language; demonstrating that they have fairly examined the issue (by considering the counterargument); introducing their own professional, academic or authorial credentials; introducing their own personal experience with the issue; and using correct grammar and syntax.

Sample Paragraph

Imagine this: a small dog sits in a dark, cold garage. His hair is matted and dirty; he is skinny and weak from going days without food. There is no water for him to drink, no person to give him love and no blanket to keep him warm at night. 1 While this might be a hard scenario to imagine, it is not an uncommon one in America today. According to the Humane Society of the United States, nearly 1,000,000 animals are abused or die from abuse every year. 2 As a veterinarian with 30 years of experience, I have seen how even one incident of abuse can affect an animal for the rest of its life. 3 As a society, we need to be more aware of this terrible problem and address this issue before it gets worse.

1 Pathos: the author paints a vivid picture to evoke a feeling from the reader—sadness and pity for the abused animal.

2 Logos: the author uses a startling statistic to appeal to our intellect. Keep in mind that these three strategies can often overlap. This sentence qualifies as both Logos and Ethos because it cites a reputable organization, so we know the author is using credible sources.

3 Ethos: the author establishes their own credibility by stating their occupation and experience.>

How Do I Know if the Author is Using Pathos, Logos or Ethos?

Pathos—does the writer appeal to the emotions of their reader.

  • Do they use individuals’ stories to “put a face” on the problem you’re exploring? For example, using an individual’s story about losing their home during the mortgage crisis of the 2008 Recession may be more powerful than using only statistics.
  • Do they use charged language or words that carry appropriate connotations? For example, if a writer describes a gun as a “sleek, silver piece of sophisticated weaponry,” they are delivering a much different image than if she writes, “a cold hunk of metal, dark and barbaric and ready to kill.”

Logos—does the writer appeal to the rational mind by using logic and evidence?

  • Do they include facts and statistics that support their point? It’s more convincing to tell the reader that “80% of students have committed some form of plagiarism,” than simply saying that “Lots of students have plagiarized.”
  • Do they walk us through the logical quality of their argument? Do they show us how ideas connect in a rational way? For example: “English students have been able to raise their overall grade by meeting with peer tutors, so it’s safe to assume that math students could also benefit from frequent tutoring sessions.” This example points out that logically, if the result has been seen in one situation, then it should be seen in a different but similar situation.
  • Hasty generalizations: “Even though the movie just started, I know it’s going to be boring.”
  • Slippery Slope: “If the government legalizes marijuana, eventually they’ll legalize all drugs.”
  • Circular Argument: “Barack Obama is a good communicator because he speaks effectively.”

Ethos—is this writer trustworthy?

  • What are their credentials? Are they an expert in the field? Have they written past essays, articles or books about this topic?
  • Do they use reputable sources? Do they support her statements with sources from established publications like The New York Times or a government census report? Do they fail to mention any sources?
  • Are they a fair-minded person who has considered all sides of this issue? Have they acknowledged any common ground they share with the opposite side? Do they include a counterargument and refutation?

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Ethos Pathos Logos

Cathy A.

Understanding Ethos, Pathos, Logos - The Three Rhetorical Appeals

14 min read

Published on: Aug 10, 2020

Last updated on: Oct 30, 2023

ethos pathos logos

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Have you ever struggled to persuade others to see your point of view? Do you find it challenging to convey your ideas effectively, whether in writing or speaking?

As a student, communication skills are crucial for your academic success and personal growth. However, simply stating your arguments may not be enough to convince others. You need to appeal to their emotions, logic, and credibility to create persuasive messages.

That's where ethos, pathos, and logos come in!

These three elements of communication can help you establish credibility, appeal to emotions, and make logical arguments. In this blog, we will explore the importance of ethos, pathos, and logos in effective communication. We will provide you with practical examples and tips to help you implement these principles in your own communication. 

So, let's dive in and discover the power of ethos, pathos, and logos!

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The Concept of Ethos

Ethos is the Greek word for "character ”. It is a rhetorical appeal that refers to the credibility and trustworthiness of the speaker or writer. 

Ethos is a critical element of effective communication, as it helps the audience to trust and believe the message being conveyed. 

How To Establish Ethos In Your Communication

Establishing ethos in your communication is essential, whether you are giving a presentation, writing an essay, or engaging in a debate. 

To establish ethos, you need to do the following:

  • Demonstrate your expertise: Provide evidence that you are knowledgeable about the subject matter you are discussing. This could include citing sources, sharing your qualifications or experience, or referencing your previous work on the topic.
  • Show your trustworthiness: Be transparent and honest in your communication. Avoid exaggerating or distorting information, and admit when you are unsure about something.
  • Be respectful: Treat your audience with respect and avoid insulting or belittling them.

Elements of Ethos 

The three elements of ethos are phronesis, arete, and eunoia.

  • Phronesis: It refers to practical wisdom or practical intelligence. It is the ability to demonstrate sound judgment, practical knowledge, and expertise in a particular field. Phronesis helps establish credibility by showcasing competence and expertise.
  • Arete: Arete is often translated as "excellence" or "virtue." It refers to the character, integrity, and moral goodness of the speaker or writer. Speakers or writers with arete gain the audience's trust, enhancing the persuasive power of their message.
  • Eunoia: It is the goodwill or benevolence displayed by the speaker or writer toward the audience. It involves the ability to show empathy, understanding, and concern for the well-being and interests of the audience. Eunoia can be conveyed through language, tone, gestures, and other non-verbal cues, making the audience feel valued.

Examples of Ethos in Communication

Here are examples of ethos in two different contexts:

Example# 1: Political Speech

In a political speech, a candidate may establish their credibility by referencing their experience in public service, accomplishments, and education. 

For example, a candidate might say,

Example# 2: Marketing

In marketing, a company may use ethos to establish credibility and trustworthiness with its customers. For example, a company that sells natural and organic skincare products might use the tagline,

The company uses ethos in its marketing by highlighting the endorsement of dermatologists and the loyalty of its customers. This approach appeals to consumers who value natural and safe skincare products.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Ethos

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using ethos in communication:

  • Using irrelevant or unreliable sources to back up your arguments.
  • Overemphasizing your own qualifications or expertise to the point of appearing arrogant.
  • Failing to address counterarguments or alternative perspectives.
  • Providing false information or distorting facts.
  • Insulting or belittling your audience.

Want to learn about Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in a fun way? Watch this video!

The Concept of Pathos

Pathos is a rhetorical device that involves the use of emotional appeals to persuade an audience. It is one of the three modes of persuasion identified by Aristotle, alongside ethos and logos. 

Pathos is about connecting with your audience on an emotional level, appealing to their values, desires, fears, and hopes. Effective use of pathos can be a powerful tool for communication because it can engage the audience and elicit a response.

Some of the most common emotions that pathos appeals to include: love, fear, anger, pity, joy, and sadness. 

How To Use Pathos Effectively in Your Communication 

To use pathos effectively in your communication, consider the following tips:

  • Know your audience: Understand the emotions, values, and beliefs of your audience to tailor your message to them.
  • Use vivid language and imagery: It creates a visual image in the audience's mind to make your message more memorable.
  • Tell stories: Stories are a powerful way to evoke emotions and create empathy. Use anecdotes and narratives that illustrate your point and appeal to your audience's emotions.
  • Use humor: Humor can be an effective way to create a positive emotional connection with your audience.
  • Be sincere: Authenticity is key when using pathos. Avoid manipulating emotions or using insincere tactics to elicit an emotional response.
  • Use appropriate emotions: Be mindful of the emotions you are appealing to and make sure they are appropriate for the message.
  • Combine pathos with logos and ethos: Pathos is most effective when used in conjunction with logical reasoning and ethical appeals.

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Examples of Pathos in Communication

Here are two examples of pathos in communication:

Example# 1: Speech About Climate Change

Here, the speaker uses pathos by appealing to the audience's emotions about their children and the future of the planet. The emotional appeal is reinforced by the personal anecdote of looking into his daughter's eyes.

Example# 2: Speech About Overcoming Adversity

Here the speaker uses pathos by appealing to the audience's emotions about overcoming adversity and achieving success. The emotional appeal is reinforced by the personal anecdote of the speaker's own struggle with a learning disability.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Pathos

Let’s take a look at some common mistakes to avoid when using pathos:

  • Overusing emotions to manipulate the audience.
  • Using inappropriate emotions for the audience or message.
  • Ignoring or downplaying logical or ethical appeals.
  • Failing to back up emotional appeals with evidence or support.
  • Using too many emotional appeals, which can weaken the overall impact.
  • Using clichéd or overused emotional appeals.
  • Being insincere or fake when trying to appeal to emotions.

The Concept of Logos

Logos is a Greek word that means ‘plan’ or ‘reason.’ It is the use of logic, reasoning, and evidence to support an argument or message. It establishes credibility and reliability by presenting a well-reasoned and logical argument.

Logos is particularly important in academic or professional contexts, where accuracy, precision, and objectivity are valued. It can also be used effectively in marketing messages that rely on data, statistics, or other evidence to support claims.

How To Use Logos Effectively in Your Communication 

Here is how to use logos in your communication:

Do your research: Thoroughly research your topic and gather relevant data and statistics to support your argument. Use clear and concise language: Use language that is easy to understand and avoid technical jargon or overly complicated terminology. Use visual aids: Charts, graphs, and other visual aids can help to illustrate your points and make your argument more persuasive. Appeal to common sense: Use logical reasoning and appeal to common sense to support your argument. Anticipate counterarguments: Consider potential counterarguments to your position and address them in your communication. Be honest and transparent: Use accurate and truthful information, and be transparent about your sources and methodology.

Examples of Logos in Communication

Let’s check examples of logos in communication:

Example# 1:

Here, the speaker is using a statistic from a credible source to support the argument that regular exercise is important for good health.

Example# 2:

In this example, the speaker is using market data to support the argument that investing in renewable energy is a smart decision.

Mistakes to Avoid when Using Logos

To be effective in using logos, it's important to avoid certain mistakes.

  • Failing to use credible sources or using outdated information.
  • Ignoring counterarguments or failing to address potential weaknesses in your argument.
  • Overloading the audience with too much data or technical jargon that they may not understand.
  • Using faulty or illogical reasoning, such as drawing false conclusions or making unwarranted assumptions.
  • Failing to connect with the audience on an emotional level, as logos alone may not always be persuasive enough.
  • Ignoring the context or audience, such as using data or evidence that may not be relevant or persuasive to them.

Comparison of Rhetorical Appeals: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

Here is a comparison table of the three main rhetorical appeals:

Gain a comprehensive understanding by exploring our blog on rhetorical analysis essays !

Ethos, Pathos, Logos Examples

The following are some ethos, logos, and pathos examples to help you make your content convincing.

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Advertising

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos Worksheet

Ethos, Pathos Logos Identifier

To summarize,  Understanding ethos, pathos, and logos is crucial in creating an effective and persuasive essay. These three elements can greatly influence your audience's perception and engagement with your writing. 

We hope this guide has provided you with a clear understanding of these concepts and how to incorporate them into your own writing.

If you need further assistance with your essay, don't hesitate to reach out to our essay writer ai . Our professional writing service is dedicated to helping students achieve academic success. 

Contact our rhetorical analysis essay writing service and take the first step toward writing an outstanding essay!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are ethos, pathos, and logos called.

Ethos, pathos, and logos are commonly referred to as rhetorical appeals.

What are the four components of ethos?

Below are the four components of ethos.

  • Similarity to the audience
  • Trustworthiness

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Frequently asked questions

What are logos, ethos, and pathos.

Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.

Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.

Frequently asked questions: Writing an essay

For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

Your essay’s conclusion should contain:

  • A rephrased version of your overall thesis
  • A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
  • An indication of why your argument matters

The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.

The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.

An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph  essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :

  • Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
  • However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
  • It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.

The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .

However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.

Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.

In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.

Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:

  • In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
  • In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
  • In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory

At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.

Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”

In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.

The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.

The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.

Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.

When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.

You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.

Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.

You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.

Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.

Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

If you’re not given a specific prompt for your descriptive essay , think about places and objects you know well, that you can think of interesting ways to describe, or that have strong personal significance for you.

The best kind of object for a descriptive essay is one specific enough that you can describe its particular features in detail—don’t choose something too vague or general.

If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?

The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.

Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.

When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

An expository essay is a common assignment in high-school and university composition classes. It might be assigned as coursework, in class, or as part of an exam.

Sometimes you might not be told explicitly to write an expository essay. Look out for prompts containing keywords like “explain” and “define.” An expository essay is usually the right response to these prompts.

An expository essay is a broad form that varies in length according to the scope of the assignment.

Expository essays are often assigned as a writing exercise or as part of an exam, in which case a five-paragraph essay of around 800 words may be appropriate.

You’ll usually be given guidelines regarding length; if you’re not sure, ask.

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  13. Persuasive Writing

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  14. Persuasive Writing Topics

    Persuasive Writing Topics. Persuasive Writing Essay Ideas: 1. Should/Shouldn't talking on the cell phone without the use of a handsfree device be