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Snap Language

Getting Smarter through Language

5 Rhetorical Modes of Writing
Persuasive Mode

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In persuasive writing, your goal is to convince or (a) to persuade your readers to change their minds, viewpoints, or beliefs or (b) to persuade your readers to do something.

In order to persuade your readers, you must present a convincing, logical argument. You must move your readers to buy something, which could be a concept, an idea, or an actual product.


Persuasive mode of writing

Impact on readers. Persuasive writing engages readers in critical thinking about the topic. They are presented with different viewpoints and premises that support a claim.

Tone. Though not necessarily so, persuasive writing can be critical, even combative. Writers must decide which tone is likely most effective in persuading their readers.

Type of materials. You commonly find persuasive writing in advertisements, opinion articles or editorials, speeches (particularly political speeches), product reviews, sales pitches, letters of recommendation, student essays, and business proposals.

When an exam question requires students to take sides on an issue, they must use a persuasive rhetorical mode of writing.

Example persuasive writing

Below is a short passage in which Marc Franco uses persuasion writing convince English-language learners not to obsess over vocabulary while reading a passage.

A common complaint among English-language learners (ELLs) is that they often cannot fully understand what they read because they keep running into unknown or unfamiliar words. They end up interrupting their reading frequently to look those words up. By the time they finish a paragraph, they have forgotten what the paragraph is about. Afterwards, they forget all the words, anyhow.

Reading generally requires you to keep track of multiple ideas in multiple paragraphs so that you understand the sequence of and relationship between these ideas. With limited brain capacity to process information, readers must stay focused. However, whenever ELLs interrupt their reading to look words up, they are no longer focusing on understanding the content.

Even effective readers run into new or unfamiliar words when they read. The difference is that they focus on the content. As long as the overall content makes sense, they skip over those words and keep reading.

There is a time to read and a time to study vocabulary. ELLs should break the habit of looking up new words while they read. Unless they cannot understand a key sentence or paragraph because of vocabulary, ELLs should be encouraged focus on understanding the content at all times. Over time, they will improve their reading fluency and comprehension. They can always learn any unknown or unfamiliar words after reading.

Note. To persuade his readers not to obsess over vocabulary when they read, Franco first frames the topic (first paragraph) so his readers can relate to a situation.

Next, he walks the readers through a logical argument.

  • reading “requires you to keep track of multiple ideas in multiple paragraphs” (paragraph 2);
  • if you keep interrupting your reading to look words up, you will lose focus;
  • therefore, you should not keep looking words up all the time.

In the last paragraph, Franco elaborates on the idea further while still persuading his readers.

Writing tip

When writing an argument, it is important to predict which counter-arguments your readers may come up with to reject your claims. Rather than “hide” counter-arguments, include and address them in your writing. In other words, think of counter-counter-arguments.

Up Next: Reflective Mode

Continue the course to learn about the reflective mode of writing.