General Writing and Grammar Help/Rhetorical - meaning



What does the word "rhetorical" mean in the phrase rhetorical purpose?

ANSWER: Interesting question!  That's a pretty uncommon way to use the word rhetorical, so I can see how it'd be hard to understand.  However, it very simply means the purpose of something written, like a memoir or a novel.

Hope that helps!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: But wouldn't the word "purpose" be sufficient to explain purpose?

Good question again!

Yes and no.

Colloquially, yes, it would sufficient.  Normally when we think of the purpose of a book or written work, we think of why it was written.

However, technically speaking there is a distinction between a purpose and a rhetorical purpose.  For instance, let's say I am given an assignment to write a persuasive essay.  I don't want to do it, but I feel I have to because it's homework, so I write a persuasive essay on why the government should not monitor the internet.  What's the purpose of that assignment?  Well, so I don't fail the class.  What is the rhetorical purpose of it?  To persuade you that the government should not monitor the internet.  Make sense?

Hope that helps!

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Anything to do with word usage and/or grammar, plus the fundamentals on almost any type of writing (especially creative writing, such as poetry, short stories, movie/dramatic scripts, etc.)


Majored in English literature in college; have published short stories and poems, currently teaching English as a second language to foreigners

As mentioned above, a bachelor's in English Literature and also a CELTA certification which enables me to teach English as a second language to foreigners.

Awards and Honors
Editor's Choice for a national poetry contest. 2nd prize for a short story in a city-wide short story contest.

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