Language Techniques English Gcse Assignment

Persuasive devices

Persuasive language is used for many reasons, for example, to help to sell products or services, or to convince people to accept a view or idea. Politicians often use persuasive techniques to get their audience to agree with their views on a particular topic. Persuasive language is a very powerful tool for getting what you want.

Here are some types of persuasive techniques and examples of how they can be used:

Flattery - complimenting your audience. A person of your intelligence deserves much better than this.
Opinion - a personal viewpoint often presented as if fact. In my view, this is the best thing to have ever happened.
Hyperbole - exaggerated language used for effect. It is simply out of this world – stunning!
Personal pronouns - ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘we’. You are the key to this entire idea succeeding - we will be with you all the way. I can’t thank you enough!
Imperative command - instructional language. Get on board and join us!
Triples - three points to support an argument.Safer streets means comfort, reassurance and peace of mind for you, your family and your friends.
Emotive language - vocabulary to make the audience/reader feel a particular emotion. There are thousands of animals at the mercy of our selfishness and disregard for kindness.
Statistics and figures - factual data used in a persuasive way. 80% of people agreed that this would change their community for the better.
Rhetorical question - a question which implies its own answer. Who doesn’t want success?


Thinking about what an opposing writer may say and providing a counter argument can be very powerful and will make your own point appear stronger.

William Wallace led the Scottish rebellion against Edward I in the fourteenth century. His exploits were made into the film Braveheart. In this extract from his speech for freedom, think about his overall purpose and how is he trying to convince his audience in a certain way.

I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny! You have come to fight as free men. And free men you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? Yes! Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!


William uses plenty of personal pronouns (‘I, you, our’) to make the audience feel as though he is speaking to them on an individual level. The repeated use of ‘free’ emphasises the overall topic of his speech, and the benefit to the people listening. He repeatedly uses rhetorical questions, one after the other to impact on the audience - they feel that they must fight to protect their freedom. The closing sentence is highly emotive; he uses the word ‘freedom’ to leave the overall message with his audience to consider for themselves.

One of the most common trends in high school English classes, as well as some college writing courses is the SQUIDS assignment.  Like many learning styles and strategies in academia, SQUIDS is an acronym commonly used to describe a particular writing assignment.  It’s goals are listed below:

SQUIDS [Select a Quotation, Understand, Identify. Describe the Significance]

1.Select a Quotation.Choose a quote that stands out in the text for its effect; find quotes that are significant to the theme of the work; select quotes that affect you as a reader.  Copy the quotation; include page number. NOTE:A quotation can be from the narrative—it does NOT have to be from the dialogue of a character.
2.Understand.Prove your understanding by taking some time to consider the quotation’s relevance to the section of the work in which it is found and the work as a whole. Think about the sentence structure and its effect. Look for rhetorical effect.
3.Identify.Identify the context in which the quote appears—what happened before and after the words you chose. Where/when does it appear in the text? Categorize its status as a rhetorical or literary device
4.Describing the Significance.Be sure to connect the passage to overall themes of the book.  What makes this quote important? Why does it stand out? How does it make you, the reader, take notice?

Many students fall into the trap of explaining the plot surrounding the scene from which the quote is selected without ever truly explaining the quote’s significance and relationship to literary themes or motifs, as well as character development.

In addition, students often find it difficult to elaborate and expand on the understanding and significance behind a quote to compose a substantial essay.

Writing S.Q.U.I.D.S. style papers helps students develop critical thinking and persuasive writing skills on paper, key criteria for the essay portion of the SAT and ACT exams, as well as for term papers and theses.

Below are some helpful resources for writing these kind of essays:

  1. How to Use Quotes in an Essay: a quick guide to formatting and citing quotations within a paper
  2. Common Errors in Student Research Papers
  3. Explication Papers: A short guide to devising a thesis and supporting it.

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