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?