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Year 9 Language A (English) Unit The Art of Persuasion

Persuasive Language Devices and Techniques

Active and Passive Voice:
Active Voice Subject is doing the action. E.g. John ate the bread.
Passive Voice Sentence focus changes the target of the action is moved to become the subject. E.g. The
bread was eaten by John.
*See Active and Passive Voice handout for a more detailed explanation and additional examples.

Connotations (Positive, Neutral and Negative):
Some of the words used in a persuasive piece may have positive, neutral or negative connotations. This means
that the word will invoke certain feelings or it will suggest a certain idea or meaning. By selecting words with
these connotations, the writer intends on directing their reader or audiences thoughts and emotions by
making clear associations. (e.g. little one, child, brat all of these words can be used to describe a young

Definition/Explanation Example
Alliteration The repetition of the first consonant sound
in a group of two or more words to draw
attention to that specific phrase.

A shocking, sickening sound
Analogy A comparison between two things that are
similar in some way, often used to help
explain something or make it easier to

We expect to pay for products and
services such as food and healthcare,
people must consider music and films
in the same manner.
Anaphora The repetition of a word or phrase at the
beginning of successive phrases, clauses or
It is designed to achieve a strong, emotional

1. I have I have I have
2. We shall fight on the beaches, we
shall fight on the landing-grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in
the streets, we shall fight in the
hills. (Winston Churchill)
Anecdote A short, interesting or amusing story about a
particular person or event. The inclusion of
these stories can be used by a writer make
connections with their readers.
These insights can act as evidence and make
a piece feel more personal.

I watched my sons football grand final
and witnessed the mature attitude and
good sportsmanship demonstrated by
the children. We must ask ourselves,
why cant the professional players
approach the game in the same way?
Appeals A writer may appeal to various beliefs,
thoughts or emotions and, therefore,
influence their reader or audience to view
the issue in a specific way.
This might include appeals to the hip-pocket,
fairness, a sense of justice, community
values, etc.

1. If this policy is approved, it will be
the average Australian who will be
burdened with higher costs.
2. We must make a change if we are
to improve childrens lives.
Year 9 Language A (English) Unit The Art of Persuasion
Attacks/invective Speech or writing that attacks, insults, or
denounces a person, topic or institution
(usually involving negative emotional
Intention is to position the reader by
discrediting those who support the
opposing view.

If Mr. Smith thinks that ignoring the
peoples wishes is ok then he is more
removed from the real world than
previously thought.
Commands To direct with authority.
Hidden commands a command made in a
more subtle manner.
*Consider how commands compare to
suggestions and the different effect each of
these may have on the audience.

As a member of this organization, you
must make a stand.
Comparatives and
Adjectives describe things
Comparatives compare things
Superlatives states/implies that something is
the highest or lowest quality
*Both of these can be used to direct/influence
choices made by the reader/audience.

1. A strong person (A)
2. A stronger person or more
worried (C)
3. The strongest person or the most
nervous (S)
Emotive language

Words and phrases to make the reader feel

1. The fox was torn viciously apart by
savage dogs.

Exaggeration /
An extravagant statement or figure of speech
that is not meant to be taken literally but is used
for emphasis and effect.

1. They had enough food to feed an
entire army.

2. He has got tons of money.
Flattery Saying nice things about the reader to get them
on your side.
1. As you are the sort of customer
that appreciates quality
2. The readers of this newspaper are
loyal and unlikely to be so easily
won over.


A statement made about everyone or everything
based on limited evidence.
His actions show that all workers at
the plant are not satisfied with the
current situation.

Raising a question (or more) and then
proceeding to answer it; the effect is to maintain
audience interest and curiosity.

Why is it better to love than be loved?
It is surer. (Sarah Guitry)

A picture painted with words.
Use of this language provides the
reader/audience with clear, vivid images that
may help them relate to an issue or point of
The torch has been passed to a new
generation of Americans. (John F
Year 9 Language A (English) Unit The Art of Persuasion
Irony A contrast between what is expected and what
actually exists or happens.
1. The firehouse burned down.
2. One must question how the
Health Minister feels now that
he is relying on a service
offered only by the hospital
that he cut funding to just
three months ago.

Metaphors and
Metaphor a figure of speech in which a term or
phrase is applied to something to which it is not
literally applicable in order to suggest a
resemblance. An extended metaphor is one that
continues into the following sentences.
Simile a figure of speech involving the
comparison of one thing with another of a
different kind to illustrate something (using the
words like or as).

1. The assignment was a breeze.
2. As brave as a lion. (S)
Modality The degree of certainty expressed by an author:
High modality high certainty
Low modality low certainty
1. Reading books might be better
than watching TV. (low
2. It is obvious that reading books
is better than watching TV. (high
Opinion as
A declaration/forthright statement.

To present beliefs as if they are factual

1. This is an excellent school.
2. Obviously, hunting is cruel.
Oxymoron Apparently contradictory words placed near
each other.

1. Larger half
2. Plastic glasses
Personification To give an object or idea human attributes. The stars danced playfully in the
moonlit sky.

Uses language to clearly identify a problem
and then quickly follows it with a solution.
This is intended to give the reader/audience
confidence in the author and provides
further support for the case being made.
The problem is simple; these animals
are dangerous and people are dying.
The proposed laws will change this and
must be approved immediately.

Refers to people to identify the
reader/writer relationship.
Inclusive Language the use of collective
pronouns can make the reader feel involved.
Exclusive Language the use of individual
pronouns can reinforce important
boundaries between people (groups and
1. We all feel that
2. Surely you can see
Puns A play on words, either on different senses
of the same word or on the similar sense or
sound of different words.
The effect is humorous.
1. Carlton has got the Blues
2. My job at the concrete plant
seems to get harder and
Year 9 Language A (English) Unit The Art of Persuasion
Refuting/rebutting To prove to be false/to disprove.
Acknowledging and arguing against the
opposing view can make an author appear
more reasonable and informed. They
demonstrate to the reader that they are
aware of the opposing arguments and have
found valid ways of refuting them.
While some people may have you
believe that this issue has been solved,
it has not. Recent studies found that
one in five people living in the area are
still concerned about the impact the
new station will have on house prices
in their suburb.
Repetition The act/occurrence of repeating/being
The same word or statement may be said
numerous times (in a row or throughout a
text) to ensure that it is noted and
remembered by the audience. It is used to
highlight importance, emphasise or develop
word associations.
Julia Gillard (Australian PM) used the
slogan moving forward more than 20
times in one speech.
Rhetorical Question A question that does not require (and is not
expected to receive) an answer.
They are used to make the reader/audience
think and might assist in guiding their point
of view/opinion on the issue being discussed.
1. Isnt the solution obvious?
2. Can we forge against these enemies a
grand and global alliance, North and
South, East and West, that can assure
a more fruitful life for all mankind?
Statistics/Evidence The inclusion of specific facts, findings or
statistics as evidence to support an
The use of such information is intended to
reflect the knowledge of the author and the
strength of their case.
Scientists from the university have
proven that one in every five of the
people affected by this illness goes
undiagnosed until it is too late for
treatment to be effective.
The use of vocabulary that is specific to a
trade, group or organization.
Indicates that the author is part of the
specific group and, therefore, the audience
is encouraged to view them as an expert in
their field. (Used to impress!)
As the accused mans lawyer entered
the court he stated that his client was
not liable and that, furthermore, the
court had limited jurisdiction in this
Tricolon A three part series with units of equal length.
This device is dramatic and popular. While it can
be effective make sure that it is not overused!

1. I came, I saw, I conquered.
(Julius Caesar)
2. and that government of the
people, by the people, for the
people, shall not perish from
the earth. (Abraham Lincoln)
Triples / rule of
To repeat an idea or image three times, usually in
a slightly different way.

1. Hunting is evil, cruel and
2. Do it well, do it fast and do it
Understatement A figure of speech in which a writer or speaker
deliberately makes a situation seem less
important or serious than it is.
Hitting that pole certainly didnt do
your car any good.

*Note the information in this table has been compiled using a range of handouts from the Teach It Website
( and handouts created by teachers from The Australian International School.