The rhetorical triangle: ethos, pathos, and logos

The three discourse modes are graphically represented as an equilateral triangle by the rhetorical triangle.

Rhetoric frequently uses linguistic devices like figurative language and well-known figures of speech in genres of literature like narrative and poetry. Rhetorical devices are the term for these instruments. You may use a rhetorical technique to increase the urgency of your argument, make it stick in the minds of your audience and/or readers, let them identify with you or your characters, and persuade them to view the subject differently.

Logos, Ethos and Pathos

Language designed to appeal to reason and logic is called logos. When you use logos in an argument, you back up your claims with evidence. Here is an illustration of a logos-based argument:

  • The cookie thief couldn't have been one of the kids because none of them were there when the cookie jar was broken into.

Ethos is language that derives its authority or reputation from the speaker. This authority can come from their qualifications, such as when a doctor discusses the best ways to avoid the spread of pathogens, or from their standing inside a story or scenario, such as when a witness to an auto accident describes the crash they witnessed. You might use the following example of ethos in your writing:

  • I started exercising twice per week because my doctor said it would help alleviate my pain.

Pathos is the use of words to evoke strong feelings in the reader or listener. Through creating an emotional connection with the listeners, pathos seeks to persuade, inspire, or enlighten the audience. Here's an illustration of pathos:

  • Please donate to the animal shelter. We’re desperately in need of funding to help our animals, and every dollar counts.


It illustrates the equal significance of all three notions for clear communication by displaying them as equally spaced-apart points. This doesn't imply that all three are necessary for good communication; pathos, for instance, has no place in a lab report; rather, it only means that all three are equally potent when utilised properly. You can also download our app from the playstore or visit our website.