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Ethos, Pathos, Logos: Explained

(This article was originally published in the April 2019 issue of Paper Jam)

Ethos, pathos, and logos are three strategies that many writers can use to influence their readers; here’s how you can use them in your own writing.

Ethos is the use of ethics or credibility to convince a reader. Ethics can be an extremely influential tool for writers. The credibility of an author or the ethics of an idea, person, business, or debate can help sway readers in a writer’s favor. An example of using ethos would be to cite a person’s credentials in order to prove their reliability.

For example: George, a small business owner, and respected committee member writes that businesses should be managed well to avoid failure.

Listing George’s credentials help readers realize that he has experience, and they should believe him, which strengthens the argument that business should be well-managed.

Pathos is the use of emotion to influence readers. Tugging at someone’s heartstrings is a great way to convince them that an argument is valid.

For example: Alan’s daughter died in a car crash last year, and in order to deal with his grief, he turned to strengthening his town’s auto laws. In this way, he can ensure that no more children will perish in car accidents.

Alan’s situation makes the reader feel that his views are noble and helps strengthen the writer’s argument that traffic laws should be more restrictive.

Logos is the use of logic to persuade readers. Logic can be a powerful tool. If an idea makes sense to a reader, they are more likely to trust that the idea is right or true. Logos often uses facts and evidence.

For example: Samuel L. Jackson is the highest-grossing actor of 2019, making 5.867 million dollars to date. The use of statistics in this example helps prove to the reader that Samuel L. Jackson is the most popular actor of 2019.

Using ethos, pathos, and logos in your writing can help convince your readers that your thesis is correct.

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