Persuasive Language Techniques

Why used
Images or figurative
Painting a word picture of a
scene or action; using
similes, metaphors,
‘Logging is creating
smouldering, air-polluting
‘You can’t ban boxing. The
horse has bolted.’
If readers can visualise the
problem through the writer’s
words, they may be more
likely to support his or her
Appeal to history or
Using evidence from history,
shared beliefs and customs,
to support argument.
‘Boxing has been around too
long to be banned.’
‘Just remember that slavery,
child labour and whaling
were once legal. Times
change and logging is now
socially acceptable.
People are not very willing to
change something that has
existed for a very long time.
We are supposed to learn
from our history.
Appeal to patriotism
Referring to Australian or
national customs.
Questioning the loyalty of
‘Those who oppose this plan
are simply un-Australian.’
‘Australians fought and died
in two world wars to preserve
our democracy.’
Label opponents as disloyal
to their country.
Readers do not like to be
thought of as unpatriotic or
disloyal to their country.
Emotive appeals
Aim to engage people’s
feelings not logic.
‘Sensible people know that
reading books should come
before computers.’
‘It is immoral to build a theme
park for dogs when we have
the starving and the poor out
on the streets.’
If the writer can manipulate
the reader to feel a certain
way, the reader should be
more likely to agree with the
writer’s overall contention.
Appeals to logic or reason
Using logical-sounding
Predicting undesirable effects
or logical consequences.
‘If a great white shark takes a
swimmer, do we then kill the
entire population?’
‘People fall off mountains,
are the mountains then guilty
of murder?’
Readers who regard
themselves as logical
thinkers might be attracted to
this argument.
Using language that
exaggerates the problem or
situation. Big statements.
‘Rugby league’s ample
bellied meatloafs with 10
thumbs plod in gangs
towards eachother to thump,
maul and gouge – for a few
centimetres of turf.’
Often expressed in colourful
or ‘over the top’ language.
Makes a dramatic impact on
the reader, especially where
time and space are limited.
Rhetorical question
Using a question to which
there is only one answer, or
to which no answer is
‘Do we allow dangerous dogs
to roam the streets?’
‘Is there not a risk of serious
injury or death in all contact
sports? Should we therefore
ban rugby?’
Invites or challenges readers
and listeners to agree with
the argument.
Says to readers and
listeners: ‘how could you
possibly disagree?’
Repeating arguments,
images, expert evidence,
appeals, emotive language,
big statements.
“The soil erosion problem
has been neglected for 200
years…. So the cost of this
neglect is all around us.’
Emphasises key parts of the
argument, helps readers
remember them, links
sections of the argument.
Humour – ridicule, irony,
Mocking opposing views;
using humour to attack the
logic of an argument.
‘The dog playground should
be been announced on 1
April – April Fool’s Day.” “In
the same week that two rich
Sydney bosses got bonuses
of $7 million 160,000 Sydney
children went without
‘A University of Newcastle
survey has reported that 96
per cent of young women
want to have children but not
give up their career.’
Encourages people to laugh
at opponents and their
Can be an effective way of
demonstrating the weakness
of arguments.
Anecdotal evidence
Using evidence from events
in one’s own life.
‘I have a small dog that I take
for a walk on a lead twice a
day and I have been
attacked, knocked over and
badly shaken several times.’
Writers use these to make
themselves appear more
Expert opinion
Quote opinions of experts to
correspond with the writer’s
‘My stand on the issue of
exposed underwear is
supported by fashion
designer Ruby Reed, who
recently stated ‘Anyone
whose underwear is exposed
due to low slung jeans should
be punished as forcefully as
‘That’s the kind of response I
would expect from a three
time loser like Kim Beasley’
Experts are often called on to
make one side seem
stronger and more
Repetition of the first
consonant sound in
consecutive words.
‘To commit such a crime only
shows he is cunning, cruel
and calculating.’
To draw attention or
Inclusive language
Using words such as us, we,
you, our.
‘It’s time for us all to stand up
and show our support for our
Aims to directly address the
reader personally or as a
member of a group.
Use of statistics
Using the results of research.
A version of playing the man
not the ball.
Attacks can belittle,
embarrass or insult and
Provides impressive
evidence that justifies the
point of view or contention.
Readers are likely to regard
statistics as objective
Make your opposition seem
less credible to make the
reader more likely to agree
with your side of the