Whether you are writing a persuasive paper for finals week, or just trying to convince your family to let you wear what you want, you should know what kind of argument to make to best suit the situation. How you argue can make the difference between convincing your audience or ostracizing them. Here are the three types of appeals you can make when arguing, and when they are best used.

1. Logos



1. A logical appeal: convincing an audience through logic and reason

2. The rational principle that governs and develops the universe (relating to philosophy)

'Logos' is the Greek word for, well, 'word'. It can be more accurately described as the word through which inward thought is expressed, or inward thought itself. The word 'logic' is derived from 'logos'.

Logical arguments can include:

- Cited facts and statistics

- Historical and literal analogies

- Quotes from authorities on the subject

- Advanced language

- Logical arguments

Related Words:

Discourse, justification, order, reason, thought, to speak, word

2. Ethos



1. An ethical appeal: the moral element that determines a person's actions (instead of their thoughts or emotions)

2. The underlying character of a culture that informs their beliefs and customs as a group (relating to sociology)

'Ethos' is the Greek word for 'character'. The word 'ethic' is derived from 'ethos'.

Ethical arguments can include:

- Convincing people of the speaker's credibility/character

- Sounding fair and unbiased

- Introducing expertise and education on topics

- Appealing to people's morals

- Proper level of vocabulary for audience

- Language appropriate for the audience and topic

- Ethical arguments

Related Words:

Beliefs, code, culture,ethics, principles, values

3. Pathos



1. An emotional appeal: evoking a feeling of pity, sympathy, or compassion by appealing to emotions

2. Invoking sympathy from an audience to make others feel what the author wants them to feel

3. The quality or power in an actual life experience in forms of expression that evokes emotion

'Pathos' is the Greek word for 'suffering/experience'. The words 'empathy' and 'pathetic' are derived from 'pathos'.

Emotional arguments can include:

- Emotional tones

- Emotional examples and events

- Implied meanings

- Meaningful language

- Emotional arguments

Related Words:

Emotion, feeling, passion, pity, poignancy, sentiment, suffering

Next time you want your parents to treat you like an adult, tell them all the logical proof that you've been acting like one. If a friend is making you feel guilty about being a vegan, use ethical appeals to explain to them. If your sibling is making you feel unloved, use emotional arguments to show them how you feel. All of these types of arguments have their time and place, and knowing how to use them can change the outcome for you.