Under What Circumstances Are Rhetorical Questions Appropriate to Use?
Rhetorical questions can be used effectively in all types of written language and speech. They can be extraordinarily helpful to get into the minds and even the heart strings of your audience. They are best used when they flow naturally. Young authors will often set out to use them in their writing without considering if they sound natural and they will clearly seem forced. There are many different situations where this literary device is overwhelming effective and thought-provoking.
They can be used to hook the reader in the introduction of just about anything. You might even notice that online media uses this tactic often to attempt to get you to click on an article and get you to read it. When used properly, this form of questioning can instantly grab the attention of your readers and engage them right away. Some examples of rhetorical questions used as hooks:
What is the world without chocolate?
Eggs are good for you? Think again!
Who does not want to be a millionaire?
If you wish to trigger a strong emotional response from your reader, this is an effective tool. Regardless of the type of emotion (joy, disgust, or utter rage) you are trying to draw up, rhetorical questions often manage to have a way of influencing these thoughts and feelings. This is why you will see this technique used often in persuasive essays and even advertisements on billboards. Look at these examples that I saw on billboards on my way into New York City last week:
Don't you want to be happy?
Why waste money on things you do not need?
Who does not want their toes in the sand?
Sometimes when writing we want to hammer our points home to our readers. An amazingly effective way to achieve this is to make a basic statement and follow it up right away with a rhetorical question. It is often helpful to start with a disruptive series of statistics or an undeniable fact and then follow it with this literary device. This tactic can often sell your readers in two sentences. These often become the foundational concepts that some businesses are built up upon. An example would be the sugarless chewing gum Trident. Their slogan has been revised over the years, but originally it began as, "4 out of 5 dentists recommend our gum. Why choose anything else?"
Rhetorical questions can be used as vehicles for transitions. They can make your movement between paragraphs seamless. They can often be used to make sharp turns in your writing help you pivot on a dime. This usually takes a bit of comfort on the part of the writer and will be something that students begin to use more often as their writing begins to become more complex.