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Common rhetorical strategies used in speech writing.


repetition of a word or phrase as the beginning of successive clauses. (Ex. "I have a dream..." is repeated several times to start successive sentences.)


a comparison of two different things that are similar in some way. (Ex. MLK compares America's racism to a bad check.)

Signal Words

Words that signal what is going to come next in a text. (Ex. "Next", "lastly", "in conclusion") (In MLK's speech, he says, "1963 is an end, but a beginning" to signify the role American must take in ending racism.)

Patterns of Development

An author's method of organizing his or her ideas. (Ex. Chronologically, spatially, topically, etc.) (MLK's pattern of develop is patterned into 5 segments.)


the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. (Ex. "We will be able To work Together, To play Together...")


repeated use of sounds, words, or ideas for effect and emphasis.


Repetition of similar vowel sounds. (Ex. We have come to our nAtion's cApital to cAsh a check."


a reference to another work of literature, person, or event. (Ex. MLK alludes to Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address when he begins his speech with "Five score years ago..."


any word or phrase applied to a person or thing to describe an actual or attributed quality. (Ex. American = The Land of Liberty)


the use of a series of words, phrases, or sentences that have similar grammatical form. (Ex. MLK use of "shall be")

Figurative Language

A way of communicating ideas without using the literal meaning of the words. (Ex. "The life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.")


Repetition of a word or phrase at the end of several clauses. (Ex. "Of the people, by the people, for the people...")


Repetition of consonant sounds.


the repetition of words in an inverted order to sharpen a contrast


A statement in which two opposing ideas are balanced


leaving out conjunctions between words, phrases, clauses

Cumulative Sentence

sentence that begins with the main idea and adds additional information, usually for description; also called a loose sentence

hortative sentence

sentence that exhorts, advises, calls to action

imperative sentences

Sentences that give a command or an order. They end with a period (.) or (!)


the reversal of the normal order of words (S-V-O order)


substituting the name of an attribute or feature for the name of the thing itself (as in 'they counted heads')

periodic sentence

Presents the main clause at the end of the sentence, for emphasis


When one word, usually a noun or the main verb, governs two other words not related in meaning (he maintained a business and his innocence--maintains, the verb applies to both) or she took his money and his life.--the verb took applies to both.

rhetorical question

a question asked for an effect, not actually requiring an answer

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