What Is Ethos, Pathos, Logos, and How to Use Rhetoric Means?

What Is Ethos, Pathos, Logos, and How to Use Rhetoric Means?

Every student should know what ethos, pathos, logos is if he or she wants to impress the audience with persuasive speeches. Aristotle identified these rhetoric means which are used up to this day. Knowing how and when to use each of the rhetoric elements, you'll be able to improve persuasion writing skills and impress any college professor.

Ethos, pathos, logos: Check the definitions

These terms are known as the three central categories of rhetoric. In ancient rhetoric, people used the following persuasive writing concepts: the ethos is the moral principle; logos — the logic, the thought contained in speech; pathos — emotion, enthusiasm, embedded in speech.

The ethos of the ancient tradition means the conditions and agreements based on which the orator is allowed to act. The pathos is the concept of speech. It is the introduction of novelty into the theme and form of speech, which represents the specification of the issue and style, i.e., an individual act of speech. Check ethos, pathos, and logos definitions to have a clear picture of what they are:

  • Ethos is an ethical, moral position of a person preparing his or her speech to encourage people to take specific actions, to call for a change in attitudes towards the subject of the utterance. It is most directly related to a sense of civic responsibility for the spoken or written word and its credibility.
  • Logos is an important logical idea that should be the subject of their active reflection and assimilation at the dialectic level. 
  • Pathos is a form of speech expression corresponding to a situation, the purpose of a statement, which is most conducive to the understanding and assimilation of the meaning of a particular statement.

Now, let’s consider them for persuasive writing more detailed.

modes of persuasive writing


Ethos refers to the conditions the recipient of the speech offers to its creator. These conditions relate to time, place, the timing of speech. They determine part of the argumentative content of speech, at least its theme, which the recipient of speech may consider appropriate or inappropriate. A recipient has the right to reject inappropriate speech. The main sign of relevance is the topic, provided that the time, place, and the timing of speech are agreed between the participants of communication. 

Arguments to the ethos can be divided into the following subgroups:

Arguments related to the personality of the speaker; the speaker must endear himself/herself to the audience with their moral qualities: 
  • Honesty — the responsibility of the speaker for the ideas and suggestions he/she puts forward. An honest speaker speaks not only on behalf of the party, class, science, law, etc. but also personally;
  • Conscientiousness — the quality associated with honesty: the speaker should not mislead the audience. 
Arguments related to the opponent’s personality. The speaker casts doubt on the provisions put forward by the opposing side, attacks not these provisions themselves, but people who put them forward. In rhetoric, there are three types of such arguments:
  • The direct attack on the person: he/she questions the intellectual abilities, moral character or awareness of the enemy;
  • An indirect attack on the person: the speaker shows that the point of view advocated by the opponent represents the private interests of the opponent, and therefore is biased;
  • Tu quoque (and you too) (lat.) is a variant of the argument to the person when the speaker/writer indicates that the opponent's words disagree with his actions or with what he said before.
Arguments related to the morals of the audience. There are arguments to:
  • Empathy;
  • Reject;
  • Reverence;
  • Tradition;
  • Common sense;
  • Mercy;
  • Taste.


Pathos is the intention of the speaker/writer who has the goal to develop a specific and exciting topic for the recipient. It is limited to the category of ethos, on the one hand, i.e., can be realized only within its place and time. Another limitation of it is the verbal means available to the speaker to establish contact with the recipient. Arguments to this mean are addressed to feelings, passions, emotions, audience.

There are two types of persuasive writing arguments to the audience: promises and threats. To correctly choose the argument, determine the dominant need of the audience.

There are three types of needs:

  • Biological (food, clothing, sex, etc.), that is, associated with the maintenance and continuation of life;
  • Social, related to the notion of justice, according to which a person gives what he considers necessary to give (the need for duties) and gets what he considers fair to receive (the need for rights);
  • Ideal (informational) is the need for beauty and novelty.


It is verbal means used by the speaker or writer in a given speech in the implementation of argument design. The mode requires, in addition to the embodiment of the intention, to use the built-in verbal means, the understanding of which would be available to the recipient of speech. Use it and keep in mind the following rules:

  1. Logical arguments are the basis of any reasoning, so they are concentrated in the middle of speech (in its central part).
  2. We must take care, not about the quantity, but the quality of the arguments: they should not be multiplied so much as weighed (the advice of Aristotle).
  3.  It is necessary to discard weak arguments (those, which can be easily refuted).

Thus, the ethos creates favorable speech conditions, appealing to human behavior. Pathos is the source for generating the meaning. It is the verbal embodiment of this mode, which one should build.

Illustrative examples of ethos, logos, and pathos

If you conduct literary research, you can find examples of the rhetorical modes. Let's have a closer look at the examples: 

  1.  Francis preached to the birds. His pathos wasn't constrained by anything, but the birds did not offer the preacher any conditions of ethos, and the very embodiment of pathos in the logo in the sermon did not affect anyone. Here is an example of pure pathos.
  2. Gulliver got into the country of Guingma. The inhabitants were polite, allowed Gulliver to speak, but he did not know their language. Therefore he couldn't explain his thoughts to them. Here is an example of the need to appeal to logos.

Check more persuasive writing examples of each mode below to have a better understanding of how to use them in everyday life.

  • Ethos: A meeting is appointed at a specific place, at a particular time, and on a specific topic. 
  • Pathos: The plan of the meeting should be thought out by the participant in connection with the time, place, and the topic of the meeting. 
  • Logos: The participants of the meeting should use only language tools that everyone can understand. So, at the academic council of Columbia University, one can speak only in English.  

The three main categories of persuasive writing are interconnected and can be used together. 

Remember that the best way to create a really powerful psychology paper with all three modes is to get expert writing help. Only experienced writers will be able to write in a clear and concise manner.