The Rhetorical Triangle

The Greek philosopher Aristotle said that every act of communication has three rhetorical appeals: logos, ethos, and pathos. Because each kind of appeal always relates to the other two, we can picture the three appeals as three points of a rhetorical triangle.


Ethos Pathos

Logos appeals to reason and logic.

Ethos appeals to the credibility of the author.

Pathos appeals to the values, beliefs, or emotions of the audience.

Questions for Evaluating Logos, Ethos, and Pathos

  • Is the thesis clear and specific?
  • Is the thesis supported with logical arguments and credible evidence?
  • Is the argument well-organized?

  • Does the author seem fair-minded or biased?
  • Does the author use credible sources and document them accurately?
  • Is the document well edited and thouroughly proofread?

  • Does the essay use concrete examples or metaphors?
  • Does the essay appeal to the values and beliefs of the audience?
  • Does the essay evoke an emotional response?

Page Last Updated: 12 January 2012