Knowing how to present ethos, pathos and logos in your persuasive essay or speech is one of the keys to making an effective argument. Some people are more easily moved by logos, some by ethos and some by pathos. In order to reach the most people possible, the most persuasive discussions use all three types of reasoning. As an example of the various approaches, we can try to persuade a man to seek treatment for some unexplained symptoms he is experiencing.
Consider the purely logical side of your argument. In the case of the man who won't seek treatment, this would include things like the fact that his illness may be easily diagnosed, he will feel better if he gets treatment, and he may worry less once he has an answer.
Present your points as you would structure an essay -- state your thesis, list your supports and state your conclusion. Make your points in an order that makes sense. Use factual or abstract language -- don't choose words that are too poetic or emotionally evocative. That kind of diction is more useful for pathos than for logos.
Support your points with statistics, facts, quotes and examples. Logos is about convincing your audience as rationally and as scientifically as possible.
Consider the emotional side of your argument. For the man with the unexplained symptoms, you may beg him to see a doctor because you're worried about him, or try to scare him with how bad his symptoms seem.
Use rich, evocative language. Use metaphors, adjectives and vivid imagery. All these things appeal to the emotional mind more than they appeal to the logical mind.
Support your arguments with personal anecdotes that have emotional meaning for you or for your listener, or use facts that evoke feelings. For example, tell him that you are losing sleep because you're so worried about his symptoms -- make him feel guilty for the concern he is causing you.
Consider why your audience should believe you personally. You should have expertise or authority in the subject in question. If you don't have any, you'll need to get your information from an authoritative source.
Use ethos to give validity to what you say. If you tell the man that you think he has pneumonia and therefore he needs a doctor, and you happen to be a doctor yourself, he is more likely to believe you; if you're not a doctor but you had pneumonia yourself last year and you recognize the symptoms, this can also support your claim that he needs medical assistance.
Use accurate grammar and a sufficiently complex vocabulary to lend strength to your authority. Sound like you know what you're talking about.
- Figure out which type of argument you want to use most heavily when you choose how to present ethos, pathos and logos, and guide your rhetoric in that direction as often as you can.
- When presenting ethos, pathos and logos in a personal appeal, an apology or even a political speech, using pathos liberally can allow you to connect more deeply with your audience.
- When you think about how to present logos, ethos or pathos in an academic context, use logos more than ethos or pathos.
- Shakespeare used logos more often than he used ethos or pathos.
- Advertisements use pathos more often than they use logos or ethos.
- Arizona State University: Logos, Ethos and Pathos
- Armin Shimerman; Shakespeare actor and teacher
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: The Art of Rhetoric
- Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images