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The right vocabulary can get you anywhere. Choose your words carefully and you might find yourself writing brilliant poetry, lyrics, essays for your masters degree, moving speeches and thoughtful cards. Choose your words carefully and you could be expressing ideas you were never able to fully express before, or perhaps you will succeed in changing even the most stubborn of minds. Let us explore how best to argue and persuade…

Argument / Persuasion Vocabulary

Before going on to look at specific techniques for including details to develop your argument, it’s important to go over some vocabulary that is essential to argumentation-persuasion. The ancient Greeks, who invented our current system of argumentation-persuasion, identified three key principles for effective arguments: logos, pathos, and ethos.

Logos refers to the logical foundations of the argument, which can include statistics, authoritative testimony, facts, and evidence.

Pathos refers to the emotional elements of the arguments. These elements appeal to the reader’s emotions and basic beliefs.

Ethos refers to the writer’s credibility. The word ethical is derived from this term, and it refers to your reliability and integrity as an author. Now that you know the basic definitions for logos, pathos, and ethos, let’s take a look at each term in depth and the tools you can use.


This element of argumentation is highly effective because you are mostly using objective supporting details to develop your line of reasoning. You can use the following strategies to refine your argument’s logic:

Personal experience and observation: As a careful observer, you can use your own experiences to back up your claims. For instance,   if your argument is that the government should provide college students with more federal assistance, you could cite your own experience as a student and provide an accounting of the various expenses you accrued on   an annual basis.

Facts and statistics: When used sparingly, facts and statistics can be highly persuasive to the audience because they   are entirely objective. However, before you cite any fact or statistic in  your essay, make sure that your source is reliable.

Quotations and paraphrases: Citing authorities on your topic can be very effective, especially if you are not an expert on the subject you are discussing. Again, make sure your sources are credible. If you obtain your source from an academic journal or book, you can safely assume that such sources are credible since publishers have   rigorous standards of quality. However, if you perform a search on the   Internet, be absolutely sure whom you are citing and what that authority’s credentials are.

Interviews: If you happen to know anyone who can cite pertinent experiences or data in reference to your subject, s/he could be very helpful in establishing the credibility of your argument.

Speculation: Speculation can be especially effective in the concluding paragraph of your essay. Essentially, you can use your previous research   to draw conclusions on what could happen in the future if your line of argument is/is not adopted. However, you would not want to make speculation the main basis for your argument.


Appealing to readers’ emotions can also be as effective as appealing to their intellects. You can appeal to the following elements to add to your argument: emotions, needs, values, beliefs, and concerns. However, relying too much on pathos can make your argument appear illogical and under-developed. Therefore, it’s important not to base your entire argument on an appeal to your reader’s feelings.


Although logos and pathos are highly effective for developing argumentation essays, neither of them will make a difference if your reader doesn’t trust you to present a reasonable account of your issue. The NIU English Department has an excellent summary of ethos and points out that Aristotle believed it consisted of three parts: good moral character, good sense, and good will. The web site states that it is important to remember the following when establishing ethos in your argument: “Ultimately, a good ethos is one that creates trust, and that usually comes when the writer or speaker succeeds in showing the audience that he or she is part of their community and shares their goals and values.”

This article was written with the hope to give you some good argumentative essay ideas.  Alan Green is a professional argumentative essay writer.