Rhet / Comp

Rhetoric and Composition

Types of Rhetorical Devices

Rhetoric is the art of persuasive spoken or written discourse that was developed in Ancient Greece. Rhetorical techniques use several methods to influence, convince, and please an audience. Here are some examples of the types of rhetorical devices that you should know.


Refers to an expansion of details do provide a clarification of a fact or point e.g. we are rich, we are brother, we own several malls


It is the repetition of words that are located at the end of clauses or phrases and at the beginning of the next e.g. I lack words, words to express how I feel.


This is the repetition of a word at the start of consecutive sentences, clause, or phrases e.g. I saw, I stood, I walked


Used to exaggerate things or a figure of speech that emphasizes a point e.g. I’m as hungry as a starving hyena.


The device makes an understatement by refuting the opposite of a phrase or word that should have been used e.g. the company’s terms and regulations are not disagreeable to us.


A metaphor compares two by directly stating that one is the other e.g. my riches are my wealth or your eyes are the windows of your soul.


It is an important device that qualifies or corrects a statement e.g. You are the prettiest woman in this town, not the entire world.


It’s a kind of metaphor used in comparing something with another, but both are closely related e.g. the knights will forever remain loyal to the crown.


These are words in sentences that are used to imitate the sound they describe i.e. hydrogen gas burns with a pop sound.


This is simply a two-word paradox, for example, seriously stupid, near miss, really funny


Features in sentences where words used have a similar structure, for example, I went to the shop, I parked my bike, and bought a cookie.


It compares an object to another i.e. he smokes marijuana like a chimney every day.


It makes concepts less valuable than they really are, for example, the bomb destroyed my bicycle.


Used to show an abusive language or express abhorrence and hatred for a person i.e. I hate proud women. Were you born this stupid, or is scoring 30% in science is the best performance from you?


It is a series of three parallel phrases, clauses, and statements, for example, tell me I forget, teach me I remember, involve me and I learn.


It refers to the absence of conjunctions such as I have a wife, she cannot cook, I cannot cook too, I will never cook.


Used when offering advice, for example, please live to do good because you do to others will also be done unto you.


It refers to the use of redundancy for the sole purpose of emphasizing e.g. I saw it with my own eyes, she heard it with her own ears.


This is the reversal of the correct words in a sentence with two parallel phrases, for example, I went to the city, to the village went she.


It is the purposeful or conscious replication of phrases and sentences to stress a point.

Rhetorical questions

Questions that one should not expect answers, for example, why are you so stupid?

This is a ever growing but perpetually incomplete of the various rhetorical devices. If you have any you’d like to contribute, or you have some favorite examples of the ones above, go ahead and write them in the comments below. The comments are also a good place to practice with rhetorical devices, and let others critique and review your work.

Types of Irony Part 1: Verbal Irony

Irony is a widely used and often misunderstood rhetorical device. Due to the depth of information, as well as its tendency to be misused, I’ve broken the subject down into a multi-part explainer.

First, let’s start with the irony definition. After a quick search of The Web, I found a good definition at typesofirony.com.

Irony is a figure of speech which is a contradiction or incongruity between what is expected and what actually occurs.

While this is a reasonable definition, it should be noted that it is imprecise, and no specific definition of irony is completely agreed upon throughout the literary community.

Verbal Irony

There are actually 3 types of irony, and the first we’re going to talk about in our series is verbal irony.

As you might expect, verbal irony is that which is spoken. It’s usually an intentional effect of the speaker to say the opposite of what is obvious, and vocal inflection is very useful for this type or irony.

sensible chuckle magazineAn example might be, on a 90° degree summer day, a corny dad might say “Brr, sure is chilly today!” Clearly it’s not chilly, but the intended effect is to make a verbally ironic joke. These types of jokes generally illicic a sensible chuckle. They are also a great way to embarrass your teenage children.

Sub-Type: Sarcasm

A sub-class of verbal irony is sarcasm. Not all verbal irony is sarcasm, just like not all sarcasm is ironic, however there’s a lot of overlap.

An example of verbally ironic sarcasm might be something like: After seeing a terrible movie you might say, “I’d sure love to see that one again.” Vocal inflection is particularly important in the case of sarcasm lest someone believe you’re speaking in earnest. You definitely don’t want to get stuck seeing Kangaroo Jack a second time.

Another very common example of verbally ironic sarcasm is when people say “Yeah, right!” when they actually mean “No.” You can see that both “yeah” and “right” are affirmative words, but with the right sarcastic inflection, they become a negative.

That concludes Part 1 of my series on Irony. I hope you’ve learned a little something.