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Rhetorical Questions. 8 th Grade English Lit. & Comp. OCHSA. Uh…what does “rhetoric” mean?. noun 1. the art or science of all specialized literary uses of language in prose or verse, including the figures of speech.

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Rhetorical Questions

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Rhetorical questions

Rhetorical Questions

8th Grade English Lit. & Comp.


Uh what does rhetoric mean

Uh…what does “rhetoric” mean?

  • noun

  • 1.the art or science of all specialized literary uses of language in prose or verse, including the figures of speech.

  • 2.the ability to use language effectively.5.the art of prose in general as opposed to verse.

  • 3.the art of making persuasive speeches; oratory.

  • 4.(in classical oratory) the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience.



  • A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply (ex: "Why me?")

  • Rhetorical questions encourage the listener to think about what the (Often obvious) answer to the question must be. When a speaker states, "How much longer must our people endure this injustice?", no formal answer is expected. Rather, it is a device used by the speaker to assert or deny something.

Different forms leading question

Different Forms: Leading Question


  • “You are ashamed, aren’t you?”

  • This style of questioning tends to be used in court, with questions like, “You were at the scene of the crime, correct?”

  • In other words, a rhetorical question is often a leading question. It is often an effective tool for cross-examination.

Different forms thought provoking gesture

Different Forms: Thought-Provoking Gesture

  • Used to stimulate deeper thought or a way to stimulate discussion on an issue.

  • This also occurs frequently during debates. For example, “How corrupt is the government?”

  • Does not really have a concrete or measurable answer; the answer is opinion based. Yet, such questions are quite capable of inspiring thought and further debate.

Different forms negative assertion

Different Forms: Negative Assertion

  • The sentence/question begins with a negative word when you mean something positive. So “Wasn’t that movie great?” means that you think the movie was great. It seems counterintuitive, but that’s the way English works.

  • It can end in either a question mark or an exclamation point.

Example of negative assertion

Example of Negative Assertion

  • Stevie Wonder, for example, wrote a famous song called “Isn’t She Lovely,” whose lyrics begin:

    “Isn't she lovely,

    Isn't she wonderful,

    Isn't she precious”

    Mr. Wonder definitely thinks the girl is lovely,

    wonderful, and precious. No question about that.

Funny examples

Funny examples

  • "If practice makes perfect, and no one's perfect, then why practice?"(Billy Corgan)

  • "Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do 'practice'?"(George Carlin)

  • "Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution?"(H. L. Mencken)

Funny examples1

Funny examples

  • Grandma Simpson and Lisa are singing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" ("How many roads must a man walk down/Before you call him a man?"). Homer overhears and says, "Eight!"Lisa: "That was a rhetorical question!"Homer: "Oh. Then, seven!"Lisa: "Do you even know what 'rhetorical' means?"Homer: "Do I know what 'rhetorical' means?"(The Simpsons, "When Grandma Simpson Returns")

Literary examples

Literary examples

  • "Hath not a Jew eyes?Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?If you prick us, do we not bleed, if you tickle us, do we not laugh?If you poison us, do we not die?(Shylock in William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice)

Even media uses rhetorical questions

Even Media Uses Rhetorical Questions

  • "Aren't you glad you use Dial?Don't you wish everybody did?"(1960s television advertisement for Dial soap)

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