Features of the Language of Persuasion

In Question (iii) of the Comprehension Question A you will usually be asked about the style that was employed by the writer. If you are asked how the writer used the language of persuasion effectively in the text, you need to be able to identify the features of this type of language and find examples from the text to back up your answer.

The language of Persuasion relies on the use of emotion rather than logic to persuade the reader to listen to your point of view. In metaphorical terms, it is when someone listens to their heart instead of their head. Below are some of the features used by writers to persuade the reader to change their mind on a particular topic.

Rhetorical Questions: Rhetorical questions force the reader or the listener to think about the question being posed and often forces them to think about their own actions or views. Example: Do we think that it is acceptable that in 2021 a child could die because they are hungry?

Emotive Language: Using graphic imagery to change the opinion of the listener or reader. Example: When you see the bodies riddled with bullet holes just yards from the border, it is only then that you realise how much it means for these people to get out of their war torn country.

Use of Personal Anecdotes: This helps to keep the reader or listener engaged and can help them imagine the situation being discussed. Example: When I visited the North Pole, I witnessed the heart-breaking destruction of the polar bears’ habitat, resulting in many polar bears being split from their offspring.

Use of Contrast: This is when the speaker of writer creates a contrast for dramatic effect to highlight an issue in the minds of the reader/listener. Example: In America in 2020, 19,384 were murdered with a firearm, while across the Atlantic in Ireland, only 73 people were killed. Are Americans just predisposed to killing or is because guns are too readily available?

Use of Emotion/Guilt: This is where the writer tries their best to make the reader feel guilty in an attempt to change their view on a particular topic. Think about the ads you see on TV that show people dying from hunger and then asking you to donate money. Example: In this country, most people cannot remember the last time they were hungry. In Somalia, young toddlers can go days without food or water leaving them at risk of starvation, dehydration or death. Unless we can find the money to build sustainable structures in their country, millions will die this decade.

Triadic Structure: This is where the speaker or the writer uses the ‘rule of three’ to make an impact on the writer/listener. Example: It is my dream that one day we will see a world where people of all race and creed can find equality, liberty and freedom.

Other features to look out for:

  • Hyperbole
  • Personal Pronouns
  • Direct Style
  • Short Sentences

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