A rhetorical question is always a powerful tool to help you emphasize an issue. However, not many students understand how to use it; they even avoid using it in their essays. 

A marker will base on the rhetorical question to classify a good writer with the bad one. That is why many students hope to use it accurately, increasing their scores. 

This article will help you know how to use rhetorical questions correctly. So, let’s check it and apply the helpful information to emphasize your idea in the essay. 

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What Is A Rhetorical Question?

A rhetorical question is a type that people use in literature and art. This type of question is not meant to seek answers or clarify the issues. The purpose of using rhetorical questions is to reaffirm and emphasize what the writer wants to convey.

The casual questions always convey a meaning of doubt, except for the rhetorical questions. The real purpose of this question is to emphasize the issue and get the attractions from the readers. To remember its function, you can place this sentence: “Rhetorical question is a kind of expression, not for a real ask.” 

Let’s get in with a sample. When my friend, John, helped get my homework done, he pointed out the rhetorical question in my essay. 

The essay reviews a literature work; then he asks: “What can Kieu do in a feudal society?” It means that Kieu cannot do anything because she is a woman – the low class in this society. 

Of course, all the readers know the characteristics of this class in the feudal society if they learned about literature. So, this question is to reaffirm Kieu’s class and emphasize the misery of women in this historical period. 

Three Types Of Rhetorical Question

If you study the rhetorical question in-depth, you will know three types to use. The information below introduces you to the function of every kind that you can take advantage of to diversify your essay art. 


Epiplexis, or what people often call Epitomizes, means craving an action. Yet, its primary function is to reprimand something; it is also considered a criticism intended to downplay others. Some people think it is the most devastating of the three types because it is not used to elicit information but to rebuke and disapprove of other actions. 

For example, Lebanon Prime Minister Fouad Siniora stated in Rome in July 2006: “Is the value of human lifeless in Lebanon than that of citizens elsewhere? Are we children of a lesser God? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?”

Epiplexis is a question that conveys a lamentation or an insult: What is the point? Why does it continue? How can you do it?


Erotesis is a rhetorical question implying strong affirmation or denial. It is a question, but it means an answer that does not show out or is unexpected.

For example, Queen Elizabeth I had responded to a parliamentary delegation in 1566: “I wasn’t born in the kingdom? My parents were born abroad. Isn’t my kingdom here? To whom have I been oppressed? Who else have I enriched?…”

This statement implied the answer, but it tried to affirm that the Queen belonged to the kingdom and how she supported empowering her kingdom. 


Hypophora is also known as Anthypophora, Apokrisis, Rogatio, or Ratiocinatio. The writer or speaker will give out his question and answer it immediately. In writing, this question is to help you increase the smooth transition from one topic to the next.

For example, Pete Seeger in Loose Talk, 1980, Pete Seeger wrote: “Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.”

This hypophora emphasizes the difference between education and experience. Of course, the readers will not need to answer it because the writer has shown it before they think. It works instantly as the reader will be ready for the following explanation, where the writer will move on.

When Should You Use It?

If you understand three types of rhetorical questions, you may wonder when you should use them. Misusing this tool will bring a negative result. Not only do you fail to emphasize the meaning you want, but also you make the readers mistake it. 

Below are the four applications of the rhetorical question as you can understand when you will use them. 

Hook Your Readers

Hooking the readers is a technique to create the most outstanding impression. The more fluent you master this skill, the more time people want to spend on your essay. 

Hooking is a technique, and the rhetorical question is the tool you want to do it. Pay attention that the hook is often at the top of the essay where you want to create the first impression with the readers. Instead of opening with dull texts, you can use the rhetorical question. 

For example, I had tried to do my homework with a rhetorical question at the beginning of the essay: “What will happen if the world runs out of water?”

Of course, we all know the answer, but it emphasizes the importance of water in human life, and the readers can imagine various situations when it happens. As a result, I successfully got my teacher’s attention; this tool helped get my homework done with a high score.

Evoke Reader’s Emotions

Do not let all the text flow in the same feeling; it will make the word flow boring. Instead, you can use rhetorical questions to evoke the reader’s emotions. 

Surprisingly, among the affirmations with the dot at the end of the sentence, you put a question that makes people think more about the issue. The rhetorical question always reflexes your emotion with the subject you give out. You can convey joy, rage, hope, sadness, and many other feelings through the rhetorical question. 

In the sample of the character Kieu mentioned above, the rhetorical question brings the author’s sadness to the woman’s destiny in feudal society. This class cannot change their life as the upper class decides it. In their lives, they have to depend on many things such as the husband, the social stereotype, etc., nearly considered a slave of society. 

To evoke the reader’s emotion, you should choose the correct emotional words. For instance, if you want to convey the rage, you should start with “Why can/cannot” or “What keep/prevent/stop.” When you need empathy, you can use the Yes/No question like “Is it difficult to fight against the oppression of feudalism?” 

Emphasize Something

It is the typical function of a rhetorical question as you use it to emphasize some ideas. However, you should only select the valuable point to be noted by a rhetorical question. It can increase the value of your essay and make an impression on the readers. 

Smooth Transition

The explanation of Hypophora has opened a function of a rhetorical question, the smooth transition. You can emphasize the previous issue and open the new information for writing. 

For example, in the previous paragraph, I explain Kieu’s sadness of her destiny and want to describe how inhumane the feudal society did to her; I will write: “What does it make Kieu sad of her destiny? Of course, it is the feudal society where she should not belong.” 

What Mistakes Should You Avoid While Using This Powerful Tool?

Overusing The Rhetorical Question

Knowing the rhetorical question, I often overuse it when I try to do my homework. I thought the more I used it, the more attractions I could get. 

However, the result is negative as overusing lowers the value of my essay. Let’s suppose you need to get your assignment done with a smooth transition. Whenever you want to transit a paragraph, you use rhetorical questions. Although it provides a smooth transition, it makes the readers feel bored. As mentioned above, you need to select the points to apply rhetorical questions carefully. 

Also, you should not use it more than twice in a paragraph. Only one rhetorical question in one paragraph is recommended as it will not count as overusing. Yet, the limitation of the rhetorical in an essay is about two or three times (based on the essay length). 

Rhetorical Question & Thesis, Research Paper

You should not use rhetorical questions in a research paper because it will affect the formal characteristics of the research. This tool is considered a personal thought, prevented in the research paper. 

Research needs to be objective, and there is no subjective thinking. If you put the rhetorical question on research, you fail at making it logical. All the ideas will be from your thought, and even this tool brings emotions to the readers, which is not advisable.

However, if you need to get your assignment done with a persuasive or argumentative essay, you can use the rhetorical question to emphasize. So, the advice is to only use the rhetorical questions in the essay or any debate you have; you should give up using it for research papers, thesis, or any informative writing that you need the scientific information more than conveying your message. 


Have you known how to use rhetorical questions in an essay? Understanding it and avoiding common mistakes is the best way to apply it successfully. 

Using this tool is also a way to show that you have more advantages than others in a debate, both by writing or speaking. 

Hopefully, this article brings you helpful information, and I wish you to master using this powerful tool in the future. 

Enjoy a favorite movie. Things get done when you come back

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