Breath of Clarity


As long as there’s awareness in the everyday writing or speaking I do, it constitutes building an argument. Specifically, rhetoric is awareness of the language choices we make based on the situation. Components of the rhetoric situation are writer, purpose, context, topic, audience and culture (The Purdue Online Writing Lab n.d.). It can be exhibited while making decisions about how to describe the strengths of my favorite band to a friend. I also build an argument when I am writing a birthday card to my family member to communicate my appreciate for them. Building arguments entails having a set of methods to identify with others while communicating with them. Once you know how to identify and analyze the elements of rhetorical situations, you will be better able to produce writing that meets your audience’s needs, fits the specific setting you write in, and conveys your intended message and purpose (The Purdue Online Writing Lab n.d.). In everyday writing, my strength is using pathos to build arguments. Pathos is frequently translated as some variation of “emotional appeal” by keeping the audience’s sensory perspective in mind (The Purdue Online Writing Lab n.d.). In contrast, when creating arguments for work or school, I use more ethos and logos. I focus on establishing credibility by abiding to specific formatting standards to be professional. By doing so, I establish myself as a trustworthy persuader (Ulmer 2016) as I show where my information comes from in a standardized manner. I supplement the ethos with logos through providing facts and reason to connect ideas and form conclusions (Ulmer 2016). It is ideal to use a balance of all three appeals (Ulmer 2016).


The Purdue Online Writing Lab. n.d. “Rhetorical Situations.”

Ulmer, Kristina. 2016. “The Three Persuasive Appeals: Logos, Ethos, and Pathos.” YouTube.

Comment by Jarrett Vigil:

Hey Mary,

I like that you have mentioned identifying and analyzing elements of rhetorical situations to better meet audience needs. This is a very important point because if the writer does not understand what the audience wants to know then the writer will not have the audience’s full attention or focus. If the audience is not fully focused on the topic being presented then the odds of persuading them are most likely to decrease. Making sure to take the time to understand the question at hand and opposing viewpoints allows the writer to craft a response to meet the needs of the reader and provide evidence and support claims or counterclaims. If the audience is more engaged then greater communication channels can be established and key points from the writer become clearer to the reader.

My Comment:

Hi Jarrett,

It is indeed important to focus on the audience’s needs and create the ethos, pathos and logos in accordance with the information we know about the audience. For example, during a sales pitch, in terms of ethos, if I notice the audience (client in this case) repeatedly referring to his years at a reputable college, I may mention my degree because I can see the client has a high regard for academia. The audience needs to feel as though they are in good hands to trust the tenants of the argument. Just as the writer needs to understand what the audience wants to know, the writer also needs to understand the barriers standing in the way of fully persuading the audience to jump on board. For example, as a residential solar sales consultant, I often came across a prospective client who said they just wanted to know the numbers to determine if buying my product would be a smart financial decision. However, even if a prospective client was in a situation of it making financial sense, I needed to be prepared to convince them to go with my company instead of other organizations that offered a similar service. I also needed to show them how the warranties would completely keep them safe if any issues arose. I needed to know more about what they wanted to know than things they directly told me. Great point that engaging the audience is crucial because it establishes greater communication channels. Its important to craft arguments that make space for the audience to be involved so that the audience is in the position of aiming to understand the writer.