How to Apply Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Essay Writing
Last Updated: 22 December 2022
A comprehensive essay is persuasive. In other words, it makes the reader believe the writer’s thesis / central argument. The best and easiest way to make your essay persuasive is to use pathos, ethos, and/or logos. These three are Aristotle’s modes of persuasion or rhetorical appeals.
Our essay writing experts will reveal the meaning of these rhetorical appeals and how to use them in your essay to make it persuasive through this post.
Definition and Examples of Logos, Ethos, And Pathos
Let’s begin by defining each term and giving a few examples, so you know everything in this guide from now on.
Logos, aka logical appeal, use logic or facts to persuade. You can use logos in your speech or writing to persuade your audience to believe you or do something. In its purest form, a logical appeal involves using graphs, charts, facts, data, and statistics. When done right, logical appeal makes speeches or writings more believable and makes the author's appeal more credible and trustworthy.
Logos (logical appeal) can be used in several ways:
- Exemplification – use of examples as evidence to appeal to the audience
- Cause/effect – use of causation to explain phenomena or origins
- Comparison – comparing one thing versus the other to show a clear difference
- Deductive reasoning – making a general claim and then narrowing it to a specific point
- Inductive reasoning – making a specific point and then generalizing
Logos (logical appeal) examples
- Several African countries, including Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, suffer from drought.
- Data gathered between 2000 and 2020 shows that 8% of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed (equivalent to 513,016 square kilometers)
Ethos, aka character appeal, entails using your credibility to persuade. You can use ethos in your speech or writing to convince your audience about what you are saying. It is best to use ethos when the audience trusts you because of your position, authority, experience, reputation, and so on. If the audience doesn’t trust you for any reason, then your use of ethos will not be very effective.
Ethos (character appeal) can be used in several ways:
- Introducing yourself by your position, experience, expertise, achievements, or reputation
- Producing solid arguments or counterarguments that show your subject mastery
- Referring to beliefs held by the audience to build trust and credibility
Ethos (character appeal) examples
- I am a doctorate in nursing, and I can assure you that the management plan is solid
- I spent seven years volunteering in Africa; I can confirm that the nonprofits there have played a significant role in helping the poor
Pathos, aka emotional appeal, is the use of emotion to persuade. You can use different emotions, including fear, wants, needs, feelings, imagination, and empathy, to convince/persuade. Whether used alone or with the other two modes of persuasion, pathos can be very effective. Politicians often use it to convince the masses to believe in following their political direction.
Pathos (emotional appeal) can be used in several ways:
- Utilizing emotionally charged words or vocabulary to charge the audience or create a certain mood
- Sharing stories of personal tribulations to make the audience sympathetic to you
- Using vivid imagery to make readers visualize your arguments/points
- Using relatable words to capture the attention of the public
Pathos (emotional appeal) examples
- Trump’s MAGA (Make America Great Again) catchphrase helped him to appeal to most conservatives leading to his resounding 2016 win.
- Unless we take action soon, the Amazon rainforest is facing a serious threat that could result in it being wiped out in a few years.
Sample Paragraph That Combines Logos, Ethos, And Pathos
Imagine entering a large warehouse, and all you see are dirty and thin puppies in cramped little cages. They all look scrawny, feeble, and as if they have been abandoned for weeks, if not months. Among the few that can gather the will and the strength to bark, you cannot hear them over the hum of the facility’s ancient wall exhaust fan. This might seem like a situation in a faraway place on the opposite end of the world, but it isn’t. It is a situation right here in the United States. There are around 7,000 illegal puppy mills in the USA as of 2021. Many are usually discovered with puppies in bad condition, just as described in the imagined scenario. As an animal rights activist with 15 years of experience, I have personally witnessed this imagined scenario many times. This is why I think, as a society, we should work harder to ensure puppies and other animals are not mistreated in our midst.
- Logos: The use of logos (logical appeal) is seen in the paragraph. The author uses data (7,000 puppy mills) to show the severity of the problem.
- Ethos: The use of ethos (character appeal) is very clear in the paragraph. The author shows the audience that they can trust him and his message because he has credibility (he is an experienced animal rights activist of 15 years).
- Pathos: The use of pathos (emotional appeal) is crystal clear in the paragraph. The author uses words to paint a clear picture of the imagined situation in the first three sentences. He makes the situation easy to visualize, creating feelings of sadness and hence the emotional appeal.
How to Use Logos, Ethos, And Pathos in Your Writing
If you have been given the assignment to write and want to ensure your instructor gives you a top grade, you need to make it as persuasive as possible. The best way to do it is to use rhetorical appeals or modes of persuasion (logos, ethos, and pathos) to make your essay as convincing as possible. In this section, you will use the three most common modes of persuasion.
1. How to Use Logos in Writing
Follow the tips below to apply logos in writing
- Be logical. There is no better way to apply logos than to be logical/reasonable. Presenting your points in a very reasonable way will make your writing easy to understand. This, of course, is the best way to appeal to any reader. You should also employ deductive (general to specific point presentation) and inductive reasoning (specific to general point presentation). These two types of reasoning also show logic and make writings enjoyable to read and understand.
- Make sure your writing is comprehensive. One of the best ways to increase the logos (logical appeal) of your writing is to be comprehensive. Making your writing comprehensive is about showing the connection between your points and your conclusions straightforwardly and directly. It is also about your writing/presentation is very understandable to the reader. This often involves re-reading and rewriting your essay/writing several times to increase its flow. Lastly, it is also about using examples and stats where necessary to make your points and conclusions clearer.
- Be specific. When you become specific in your writing, you make it easy to comprehend and follow your main argument. For example, when you use statistics and data to show the truth, you make your work logical and convincing. Alternatively, when you cite other works like journals and books as evidence in your writing, you make your work extremely convincing to the reader.
- Use facts. Base most of your writing on facts. Facts include data, stats, and so on. Basically, anything that is irrefutable information is a fact. Using facts in your writing appeals to logic and makes it more believable. Example: Over 60 percent of college students have mental health symptoms that would meet the criteria for at least one mental health condition.
- Show that not taking your side is illogical. If you get an opportunity, show that taking the opposite side is illogical. This will put more emphasis on the logic on your side and make the reader quickly switch to your side as per that point. Of course, you need to give a reason or evidence why the other side is logical to make the reader believe your side of the argument.
- Make sure your writing has good structure. Whatever you are writing about, work hard to make sure that it has a good structure. A good structure will give your writing a good flow and make it easy to understand (logical).
2. Applying Ethos in Your Writing
Follow the tips below to apply ethos in the writing
- Show your good character. Showing your good character in writing will help you to establish your credibility or trustworthiness, and it will help make the reader believe your point because of your character or credibility. The right way to show good character is to cite something that shows your character in your writing. Example: Because I have been an active infantry soldier for over six years, carrying her on my shoulder from the burning building was not an issue.
- Show good sense by referencing reliable sources. The use of ethos in writing is all about using your character or credibility to persuade or convince the reader. One of the cleverest ways to show you have good character is to cite reliable sources. When you do this, re indirectly telling the reader that Professors like this, and they usually give points for proper citations in writing. Example: In a paper published in 2021, Professor Charles Homly revealed how a lack of stable macroeconomic policies negatively affects the economies of emerging countries in the global south.
- Show your goodwill. A great way to use your character to convince your audience is to show goodwill. When your audience knows you are saying something for the greater good (for a larger cause than yourself), you become more believable in their eyes. So use words or make points that show your goodwill. Example: The prevalence of mental health issues in nursing schools across the country is over 65%. This shows that the mental health of the majority of students is at risk and that something urgently needs to be done about it.
3. Using Pathos in Your Writing
Follow the tips below to apply pathos in writing
- Make your audience feel some emotion. Pathos is all about emotional appeal, and there is no better way to do this than to make your audience feel some emotion (happiness, pain, sadness, fear, joy, or pity). Connecting to your audience emotionally will make your work more believable to them. Example: She screamed for joy and high-fived everyone for several minutes after her sister broke the world record in the 50m butterfly swimming contest. This example evokes feelings of happiness from the audience.
- Use words that appeal to emotion. Using descriptive words that paint a picture or put the writer in some mood is a great way to create emotional appeal, and this is because it makes the reader want to find out more. Example: She sobbed for hours with tears streaming down her face as she sat there mourning the painful demise of her brother.
- Don’t go overboard. Trying too hard to create emotional appeal in your work will put off any reader. So avoiding doing so is not fashionable and may make the reader reject your work or a part of it.
Before you Part with this Piece …
Ethos, pathos, and logos are commonly used strategies for persuading others to a specific point of view. They’re mostly applied in advertising and writing to win the trust of the audience. Collectively, they are referred to as Aristotle’s modes of persuasion or rhetorical appeals. We have explained each rhetorical appeal, given relevant examples, and included tips.
In connection to what we have discussed, also read the following related articles:
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