The definition of a rhetorical question

A rhetorical question is a question that doesn’t expect an answer. It’s a figure of speech that usually comes as a question to emphasize a point, rather than to elicit a response.

Geoffrey Mutie
Geoffrey Mutie

A rhetorical question is a question that doesn’t expect an answer. It’s a figure of speech that usually comes as a question to emphasize a point, rather than to elicit a response. These questions often discuss well-known facts and are primarily used in persuasive texts.

Unlike usual questions, they don’t need to be directly answered. A rhetorical question is a technique used by writers to shape how the audience or reader thinks about a given topic.

How to use rhetorical questions

Apart from using rhetorical questions to make a point or dramatic effect, they can also initiate a discussion when they are difficult to answer. They can also be used in particular pieces of writing to create a specific tone.

Rhetorical questions can be used to:

  • Persuade the reader or audience to agree with you on a particular topic.
  • Personalize your questions with the use of “your” and “you.”
  • Engage the reader or audience — allow them to think of an answer to make them actively participate, rather than just creating resolutions and hypotheses.
  • Emphasize statements — once you’ve made a given point in your piece of text or speech, you can use a rhetorical question to affirm the point.
  • Answer a question with another question.
  • Predict the reader’s and audience’s questions.

A rhetorical question may have an obvious answer, which may be immediately answered by the questioner, or may not have a rhetorical answer at all.

Examples of rhetorical questions

Want to order some food? I bet you do.
If you poison a person, shall they not die?
What has the world become?
Do you hate doing the dishes late at night? Then, we have a solution for you!
If you tickle me, should I not laugh?

Some more examples to take with you

The Avengers (2012)
The Mummy (1999)
Gladiator (2000)
Blood Diamond (2006)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
EnglishIdioms & expressionsWhich is correct

Geoffrey Mutie

My name is Geoffrey! I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my writing skills and my interpersonal skills, which in my opinion help a person be professional.


Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Geoffrey Mutie

My name is Geoffrey! I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my writing skills and my interpersonal skills, which in my opinion help a person be professional.