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Arts and Humanities
Rhetorical Devices for AP Language
Terms in this set (76)
A figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion, make a point, or evoke humor
Charlie gazed hopelessly at the endless pile of bills stretching across the counter.
the presentation of something as being smaller, worse, or less important than it actually is.
"I have to have this operation. It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain."
A form of understatement that involves making an affirmative point by denying its opposite
"He was not averse to taking a drink." or "She is no saint."
Uses a contrast in language to bring about a contrast in ideas
- Life can be kind and cruel, full of hope and heartache.
- We live within our limits, for we are men, not gods.
- I speak not from ignorance, but from experience.
- War is not fought to achieve joy, but rather to avoid pain.
raising a question then proceeding to answer it
Who's the best? I am
A question asked merely for rhetorical effect and not requiring an answer
Rhetorical Question Example
What business is it of yours?
The speaker raises an objection to their own argument and then immediately answers it.
- There are those who would say the American people could never make such sacrifices. To them I say: have we forgotten World War II so soon? Let us remember the rationing of tin and milk, of copper and eggs. Let us remember the hours spend in prayer, at work and in battle on the front. Let us remember a people coming together for one noble purpose, and making whatever sacrifices were needed to achieve that common goal.
- it may be pointed out that the proposed tax plan adds a burden to a small number of families in the upper brackets. While this may be true, the benefits offered to those who are most in need must surely outweigh a small bit of hardship to those who are not.
A rhetorical device in which the writer elaborates on the definition of a word, to make sure there is no misunderstanding.
- Communism, by which I mean the socialist communalism which comes after the centralized state, has get to be tried anywhere in the real world.
- At this point, we have a short time left--a short time being less than fifty years.
- Is the software easy to use (can my ninety-year-old grandmother learn it) or difficult (do I need a degree in computer science)?
A comparison using "like" or "as"
"He is as hungry as a horse"
A comparison that establishes a figurative identity between objects being compared and does not use like or as
Our lives are grapes, bitter and sweet.
A comparison that uses something already well-known to explain something less well-know.
- When your enemy comes to you in pain, you must do whatever is in your power to help ease that pain. For when a child comes to you in pain, do you not do everything you can? Know then that in the eyes of the Lord we are all His children.
- The desire for wealth, when unchecked can lead only to great evil. For though a man may begin with but a sip of wine, without restraint, the urge will grow until one day he is a drunkard, blinded to all but his need, taking whatever steps are needed to find his fix.
A reference to another work of literature, person, or event
If he's not careful, his love life could end up like Romeo and Juliet's.
Using the name of a famous person or legend to link their attributes to the writer's subject.
- A modern day Moses, he led his nation to a new beginning.
- The senator, with the patience of Job, endured setback after setback, until his time finally came.
A quotation, maxim, or wise saying (or: the use of a quotation, maxim, or wise saying); usually a general saying rather than a famous saying attributed to an individual.
- As is often said, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
- We would do well to remember, however, that all is fair in love and war.
- As Epictetus wisely noted, "no great thing is created suddenly."
Providing the reader with an example to explain your point.
- An example can be seen in the Seattle general strike of 1919, when for five days, more than sixty thousand workers ground the city to a halt.
- To see the truth in this, we need look no further than the daily television news, in which a single segment lasting for more than five minutes is the rare exception.
- Let us consider a woman born into poverty; let us see that she has no opportunity for education, no encouragement from her parents, and no financial resources to fall back on. Can we truly contend the choices open to her in life are equal to a man's?
Organizing thoughts to appear in order from the least important to the most important.
- He began his career writing horoscopes for a local paper. By nineteen, he was writing front-page stories. At twenty-two he published his first collection of short essays. And just nine days shy of his twenty-sixth birthday, he won the Pulitzer for his work at the New York Times.
- Caution can be a useful human emotion. Fear tends to cloud our better judgment. Anger turns us away from what we know to be right. Hate overwhelms us and ultimately devours our humanity.
- Curiosity leads to discovery, leads to knowledge, leads to wisdom.
the repetition of words or phrases that have similar grammatical structures
like father, like son
A statement consisting of two parallel parts in which the second part is structurally reversed
"I like the idea; its execution, I don't."
device that takes the last word of a sentence and uses it near the beginning of the next sentence
In education we find the measure of our own ignorance; in ignorance we find the beginning of wisdom.
device that takes an important word from anywhere in a sentence and repeats it near the beginning of the next sentence
- This law destroys the fruits of thirty years of struggle, bringing us back to a less enlightened time. Law should be evolutionary, building up rather than tearing down.
- Seeing that they hear, do we not ask if they speak? Seeing that they speak, do we not ask if they reason? Seeing that they reason, do we not question whether we are more alike than not?
summing up a body of work that has come before so you can move to a new point
- Having dealt as we have with the many devices used by a writer in his craft, we shall now proceed to examine those devices a reader may make use of to analyze a piece of literature.
- I have laid out for you neatly and in proper array the various flaws in the current system. Let me next offer you workable alternatives.
- The previous passages explain when they got here, and who brought them. The next quotation shows how and why they made the journey.
a device used to insert an aside or additional information into the flow of writing
- This continued for many years-some would say far longer than it should have-before a new brand of politician put an end to it.
A construction in which elements are presented in a series without conjunctions
Rhetorical device in which the writer breaks out of the flow of the writing to directly address a person or personified object
Supplying a list of details about something in order to expand the central idea
Ordering points in a way that downplays the negative points
Attaching a descriptive adjective to a noun to make characteristics more prominent, (especially to evoke an idea or emotion)
- On the day of the historic battle, the ferocious sun rose clearly and looked bloody.
I came, I saw, I conquered
using unnecessary conjunctions
They read and studied and wrote and drilled. I laughed and played and talked and flunked.
a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa
Another mouth to feed
a figure of speech that substitutes a word with a different but closely associated word
the pen is mightier than the sword
A figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes
Unusual arrangement of words, phrases, and clauses to make certain parts stand out, or make the entire sentence stand out.
A device that expresses doubt about an idea
- I'm unsure whether to be in favor of harsher penalties or opposed to them, as the arguments on both sides seem very strong.
- There are those who say creating wealth, no matter who profits from it immediately, ultimately helps everyone-an idea that, while I have yet to be persuaded, seems convincing to me.
- I have heard that native deer populations in North America seem to be on the decline, and I don't know what to say about that. In my experience it seems our town is inundated by these creatures.
Phrases: "I don't know..."; "I cannot say..."; I'm unaware of..."; "I often wonder..."; "I'm not convinced..."; "I have never understood..."
Same word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of multiple clauses or sentences.
Same word or phrase is repeated at the end of multiple clauses or sentences
Same word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of clauses or sentences; while another word or phrase is (similarly) repeated at the end of the same clauses or sentences
Repeating something just stated, while adding more detail and information to the original description
The yellow leaves flaunted their color gaily in the breeze.
writing successive independent clauses, with coordinating conjunctions, or no conjunctions
I am tired: It's hot
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