How do I know if a story is using ethos, pathos, or logos?

Expert Answers

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You might think of it this way:

pathos = heart (symPATHy)

logos = head (LOGic)

ethos = your character (ETHical)

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You are asking what type of appeal an author uses—or how the author tries to persuade the reader. Very often, all three types of persuasion are used in a single text.

When a writer uses ethos, she is hoping to win the reader over through credibility; for example, if the main character is someone described as being very trustworthy, the reader tends to respect that.

When logos is used, the reader often agrees with the writer because the argument or appeal seems logical.

Finally, when a writer evokes pathos, she is trying to persuade the reader through the reader’s emotions.

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