GRE English Comprehension Test 6
Persuasion is the art of convincing someone to agree with your
point of view. According to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, there
are three basic tools of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos.
Ethos is a speakers way of convincing the audience that she is a
credible source. An audience will consider a speaker credible if she seems
trustworthy, reliable, and sincere. This can be done in many ways.For
example, a speaker can develop ethos by explaining how much experience
or education she has in the field. After all, you would be more likely to listen
to advice about how to take care of your teeth from a dentist than a
firefighter. A speaker can also create ethos by convincing the audience that she is a good person who
has their best interests at heart. If an audience cannot trust you, you will not be able to persuade them.
Pathos is a speakers way of connecting with an audiences emotions. For example, a speaker
who is trying to convince an audience to vote for him might say that he alone can save the country from a
terrible war. These words are intended to fill the audience with fear, thus making them want to vote for
him. Similarly, a charity organization that helps animals might show an audience pictures of injured dogs
and cats. These images are intended to fill the viewers with pity. If the audience feels bad for the animals,
they will be more likely to donate money.
Logos is the use of facts, information, statistics, or other evidence to make your argument more
convincing. An audience will be more likely to believe you if you have data to back up your claims. For
example, a commercial for soap might tell you that laboratory tests have shown that their soap kills all
7,000,000 of the bacteria living on your hands right now. This piece of information might make you more
likely to buy their brand of soap. Presenting this evidence is much more convincing than simply saying
our soap is the best! Use of logos can also increase a speakers ethos; the more facts a speaker
includes in his argument, the more likely you are to think that he is educated and trustworthy.
Although ethos, pathos, and logos all have their strengths, they are often most effective when
they are used together. Indeed, most speakers use a combination of ethos, pathos, and logos to
persuade their audiences. The next time you listen to a speech, watch a commercial, or listen to a friend
try to convince you to lend him some money, be on the lookout for these ancient Greek tools of