Whereas rhetoric questions are literal devices that add some flair to your writing, there is a debate on whether it is okay to use them. The opponents of rhetoric questions claim they add no value and seem to confuse a reader, while proponents argue they are necessary.
With such conflicting stands, many students get confused about their use. So, is it okay to ask rhetorical questions in an essay, or should they be avoided altogether? We sought to find the actual standing and the accepted rule in their use, and here is what we found out.
Is It Okay to Ask Rhetorical Questions in an Essay
Generally, it is okay to ask a rhetorical question in your essay and not in academic ones.
Rhetorical questions are a great way to engage your readers and make them think about the subject. However, when it comes to academic writing, rhetorical questions tend to be inappropriate because academic writing mainly gauges your understanding of a subject matter. On the other hand, essays outside educational institutions are used for information; thus, these questions are an effective drawing-in tool.
In persuasive essays, rhetorical questions also create a particular effect or challenge the reader’s beliefs, and they can help persuade the reader to agree with your point of view.
However, it would help if you used rhetorical questions sparingly and strategically in an essay. Too many of them will make your writing sound repetitive and monotonous, leading to a loss of interest in readers.
It also means you should use these questions to ensure a reader feels compelled to think about the answer. You should have a valid reason to ask and that it adds value to your essay rather than just asking it for no reason. A good rule of thumb is that if the question doesn’t compel you, it is unnecessary.
Why You Should Not Use Rhetorical Questions in an Essay
Rhetorical questions are excellent, but it is important not to overuse them. The more rhetorical questions you use in an essay, the less likely your audience will take you seriously.
Here are more reasons why you should not use them in essays;
They are a cliché
A cliché weakens your writing and makes it look empty. The questions leave your readers confused and sometimes annoyed because they do not get the meaning of what you are trying to say.
Further, they have been used so many times that they are no longer effective in creating an impact on the reader. Instead, they sound like the writer is just trying to make a point without having any arguments or evidence to support it. In other words, they do not add anything to your essay.
Thus, it is always advised to avoid using these questions if you want to make your essay look sharp and well-thought-out.
Professors hate them
Another reason you should not use rhetorical questions is that professors frown upon them. This is because it does not provide evidence or reasoning for your point of view. In addition, it can be very distracting for the reader who wants to see proof or reason behind your argument.
They are a form of padding
Rhetorical questions should not be used in essays because they do not add depth or insight to your topic. It can also be boring for the reader, especially if using too many rhetorical questions.
Generally, they are not allowed in academic writings
Rhetorical questions in essay writing are usually not allowed because they do not provide evidence for your argument. Moreover, they do not express any specific details about your topic; thus, your professor may either discourage their use or ask you to minimize it.
Exceptional Cases On When to Use Rhetorical Questions in an Essay
Even though rhetorical questions use is primarily discouraged, there are exceptional cases when they serve the purpose.
These exceptions include argumentative essays in titles or introductions, and they serve the following purposes;
When you want to create a conversational tone with your readers
In many instances, some essays are technical, and you may want to create a conversation with your readers. As such, the use of rhetorical questions comes in handy and is a beneficial strategy.
These questions help you to connect with your readers better because they encourage dialogue and discussion between you and your readers.
In addition, rhetorical questions can be very effective when used correctly as an aspect of a persuasive speech or essay because they encourage the audience to think about a particular part of an argument.
This is necessary because it helps you engage with the readers rather than just accepting what is being said without question. This helps make the argument more interesting for the audience and makes them want to keep listening or reading further.
When there is doubt about a widely believed issue
Rhetorical questions often provoke thought but can also hide the writer’s real thoughts. The first use is more common in academic writing, while the second is more prevalent in literary writing.
In essay writing, it’s vital to make sure that your audience understands your point of view. When there is doubt about a widely believed issue, a rhetorical question can help clarify your point of view by forcing the reader to reconsider their opinion.
Thus it is a way of persuading someone to agree with you. A rhetorical question may be posed as an exaggeration, which can be used as an argument against another person’s views and opinions.
Can You Use a Rhetorical Question as a Title for an Essay
You can use a rhetorical question as an essay’s title, but there are specific rules. Firstly, it should be attention-grabbing to grab a reader and make them want to read the entire piece. Further, a rhetorical question can make a compelling title if you are writing a persuasive essay.
For example, if writing on green energy, you may have a title such as 90% of experts agree green energy is the future: Who would disagree with such a considerable percentage of experts?
Therefore you may use one in a title but ensure it is effective and you will not lose your potential readers.