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The Rhetorical Triangle Ethos, Pathos, Logos: Meaning and Examples

Even if you have not heard such concepts as ethos, pathos, and logos, you nevertheless use and encounter them every day: in conversation, in books, and on TV shows. In this article we will analyze: 

Let’s start with the history of the concepts of ethos, pathos, and logos.

Who Is the Founder of the Rhetorical Triangle Ethos – Pathos – Logos

The author of the modes of persuasion ethos, pathos, and logos, is the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. In his treatise “Rhetoric”, Aristotle characterizes these concepts in the following way:

Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds.

The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker; [ethos]

the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind; [pathos]

the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself. [logos]

Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible. We believe good men more fully and more readily than others: this is true generally whatever the question is, and absolutely true where exact certainty is impossible and opinions are divided.

Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile …

Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question.

There are, then, these three means of effecting persuasion. The man who is to be in command of them must, it is clear, be able (1) to reason logically, (2) to understand human character and goodness in their various forms, and (3) to understand the emotions-that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited.”

Definition of Ethos-Pathos-Logos

Ethos, pathos, and logos are modes of persuasion or techniques in rhetoric that determine the author’s strategy when addressing readers or listeners. To write a really good text or speech, you need to be able to use persuasion methods.

Rhetorical Triangle ethos pathos logos meaning and examples
Rhetorical Triangle Ethos Pathos Logos: Meaning and Examples

What Does Ethos Mean?

Ethos is a method of persuading in the author’s authority and reputation.

What is ethos: Meaning and Examples
What is ethos: definition

Using ethos, the author shows the audience that he can be trusted and that his opinion should be listened to. The author convinces the reader or listener of his professionalism, knowledge, and experience.

Even if you are not an expert, the reader needs to understand that you have studied the information, understand the issue, and know the subject well. The author can emphasize the moral values that the reader supports, and thus strengthen his idea.

Using ethos, trust in the author and belief in the truthfulness of his words are formed. You can’t tell the reader that “I’m so nice and smart, so you should trust me.” You will have to convince the reader of this and follow these steps:

  • Tell about your professional experience or experience of a specialist whose opinion you trust. 
  • Tell the audience about your education and your achievements. 
  • Refer to the opinions of experts and other professionals.
  • Use professional vocabulary.

That is, you need to emphasize your professionalism or at least your level of knowledge in the area that you broadcast to other people.

Examples of How to Use Ethos

Example 1

Merks has been one of the leading developers of residential projects in Riga since 1997. To ensure the best quality and convenience for home buyers, we manage all phases of residential projects: planning, design development, construction, sales, and service during the warranty period.

Need our construction services?

We go beyond the expected to find the best possible solutions.

Merks carry out complete projects from beginning to end, providing superior quality and peace of mind for the client.

Example 2

The medical clinic employs doctors who believe in classical medicine with a long-term doctor-patient relationship based on mutual trust. This happens when the doctor gives the patient enough attention and time to understand what is most important to the individual. No queues, no rush, and no unanswered questions.

At the same time, the clinic is equipped with up-to-date diagnostic equipment for both frequent and specific examinations. Less frequently needed examinations are provided by Premium Medical partners, who serve clients in accordance with Premium Medical standards.

Example 3

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30.

Steve Jobs

Example 4

Ethos in the Iron Curtain Speech.

At the beginning of his speech, Winston Churchill uses ethos: he emphasizes the honesty and sincerity of his words, thus arousing the trust and favor of the public. He repeats more than once that he considers it his duty to tell and warn about the impending threat. 

Let me, however, make it clear that I have no official mission or status of any kind, and that I speak only for myself. There is nothing here but what you see.

I can therefore allow my mind, with the experience of a lifetime, to play over the problems which beset us on the morrow of our absolute victory in arms, and to try to make sure with what strength I have that what has been gained with so much sacrifice and suffering shall be preserved for the future glory and safety of mankind.”

Modes of Persuasion Ethos-Pathos-Logos: What Is Pathos?

Pathos is a mode of persuasion using emotions. 

What is pathos: Meaning and Examples
What is pathos: Meaning and Examples

Using pathos, the author can evoke the right emotion in the reader or listener: pity, sympathy, empathy, fear, or anger.

But you should not use only pathos in your text. It will be more efficient to use all three modes of persuasion: logical arguments, authoritative opinion, and emotionally strengthening your text.

The author can tell stories or examples from his own life, and share his personal experience and events that happened to him. These will help create an emotional connection with the listener.

How to Use Pathos: Examples

Example of using pathos #1

My model for business is the Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts.” 

Steve Jobs

Example #2

Example of using pathos in literature:

“Loving someone is like moving into a house,” Sonja used to say. “At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you weren’t actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this.

Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection, but rather for its imperfections. You get to know all the nooks and crannies. How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it’s cold outside. Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without them creaking. These are the little secrets that make it your home.”

Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

Example #3

Example of pathos in literature:

“Sometimes I used to think that one day I should wake up, and all that had been would be over. forgotten, sunk, drowned. Nothing was sure – not even memory.” 

Erich Maria Remarque, Three Comrades

Example #4

“I was raised to believe that I am inherently equipped to handle any problems that may arise in my life, racism included. Some combination of hard work, education, and God would topple any and all obstacles and enemies. The only variable was the level of my commitment to the fight.”

Will Smith

Example #5

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Steve Jobs. Commencement Speech


Meaning of Logos

Logos is a mode of persuasion using logic, common sense, and reason.

What is logos meaning and examples
What Is Logos?


  • facts, statistics, research;
  • scientific information, the theory;
  • examples that the reader can apply to himself;
  • historical events or the author’s experience.

If ethos is the ground or basis of your argument, then logos is what reveals it and leads the reader further, strengthening the author’s opinion and convincing him as much as possible of the author’s rightness and authority.

Read also posts:

Examples of Using Logos

Example #1

United Nations

Poverty affects children disproportionately. Around the world, one out of six children lives in extreme poverty, living on less than US$1.90 a day. Their families struggle to afford the basic health care and nutrition needed to provide them a strong start. These deprivations leave a lasting imprint; in 2019, 149 million children under the age of five were stunted.

Despite great progress in school enrolment in many parts of the world, more than 175 million children are not enrolled in pre-primary education, missing a critical investment opportunity and suffering deep inequalities from the start. 6 out of 10 leave primary school without achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, according to a 2017 UNESCO report. This challenge is compounded by the increasingly protracted nature of armed conflict.


Example #2

Shell is an international energy company with expertise in the exploration, production, refining and marketing of oil and natural gas, and the manufacturing and marketing of chemicals. 

Shell at a glance in 2021:

70+ countries where we operate

64.2 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) sold during 2021

82,000 employees at December 31, 2021

10 refineries in which we have interests

3.2 million barrels of oil equivalent we produce per day

Financial performance in 2021:

Revenue: $261,504 million

Income: $20,630 million

Cash capital expenditure: $19,698 million

Investment in research and development: $815 million


Example of logos #3

Examples of using logos by Nelson Mandela in his speech “I Am Prepared to Die”:

In 1960 the Government held a referendum which led to the establishment of the Republic. Africans, who constituted approximately 70 per cent of the population of South Africa, were not entitled to vote, and were not even consulted about the proposed constitutional change.”

“For thirty-seven years – that is until 1949 – it adhered strictly to a constitutional struggle. It put forward demands and resolutions; it sent delegations to the Government in the belief that African grievances could be settled through peaceful discussion and that Africans could advance gradually to full political rights. But White Governments remained unmoved, and the rights of Africans became less instead of becoming greater.”

Now you know what persuasion methods exist, and how they can and should be used in text and public speaking.

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