What Is a Rhetorical Pattern?

A. Leverkuhn

A rhetorical pattern is a technique that is used by a writer, or in some cases, a speaker, to communicate ideas in a particular way. Readers or listeners use an understanding of rhetorical patterns to try to develop a closer analysis of what the writer or speaker is trying to express. These patterns are most commonly applied to texts, or transcriptions of speech, where it is possible to explore the communication through the use of various rhetorical resources.

Various rhetorical patterns help readers identify the goals and intent of the writer.
Various rhetorical patterns help readers identify the goals and intent of the writer.

One type of rhetorical pattern is the example. This basic rhetorical strategy is a common one. The writer uses the example to expound on an idea that has been introduced. Generally, the example is used to make the idea clearer through a practical representation of the idea. Experts point out that the placement of an example of other rhetorical pattern is important in revealing more about the writer’s intent and what he or she is trying to express.

A rhetorical pattern is how a writer communicates ideas.
A rhetorical pattern is how a writer communicates ideas.

Comparing and contrasting is another kind of rhetorical pattern that writers might use. Again, these tools provide for a more advanced presentation, whether it’s an essay or some other kind of text. Readers often identify comparing and contrasting statements and analyze them for meaning.

Writers can also use cause and effect as a kind of rhetorical pattern. Many readers may understand cause and effect as a scientific idea, but it is also useful in examining rhetoric. Other kinds of patterns, in addition to comparing and contrasting and cause and effect, include opposites, or positive and negative statements that are presented close together, where a writer may be presenting one or more arguments to the reader from that writer’s unique point of view.

Various other rhetorical patterns also help readers identify the goals and intent of the writer. This can be very useful in academic or technical analysis of a text. Readers often highlight, circle, or underline the patterns that they find in a text to study that text further and provide an intelligent response.

Academic experts often explain that using rhetorical patterns leads to a “meta-level” exploration of a text. Spotting rhetorical patterns allows the mind to grasp concepts in a text in different, and often more effective ways. That is why this sort of analysis of rhetoric is common in academic institutions.

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Discussion Comments


A good writer knows well how to use this as do teachers. Ever have someone say a professor knows the material but can't explain it to students? That's often because the professor can't present complex theories in real world, practical ways.

One of the writers who mastered this concept is C.S. Lewis. That man could take the more complex and intellectual theories on which Christianity is based and present them in such a way that they made sense.

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