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Have you ever found yourself convinced by an argument that left out a crucial piece of information? That missing piece might just be an enthymeme – a powerful rhetorical device used by writers, advertisers, and politicians to persuade their audiences. This article dives into the world of enthymemes and explores how they can help you become a better writer and a more discerning reader. Get ready to fill in the missing pieces and uncover the persuasive power of enthymemes. 

Knowing what an enthymeme is can be helpful for both writers and readers. For writers, it’s an essential tool for creating persuasive arguments that appeal to the audience’s emotions and logic. By using an enthymeme, you can create a more compelling argument without having to spell out every detail. This can save you time and words, and make your writing more concise and effective.

For example, let’s say you’re writing an argumentative essay about the importance of education. Instead of stating the obvious, such as “education is crucial for success,” you could use an enthymeme to make a more persuasive argument. You might say something like, “Without education, one’s chances of success are severely limited.” By leaving out the premise that education provides knowledge and skills necessary for success, you’re relying on the audience to make that logical connection themselves. This can make your argument more powerful because it engages the audience’s critical thinking skills.

For readers, knowing what an enthymeme is can help you better understand and evaluate arguments. By identifying the missing premise in an enthymeme, you can evaluate whether the argument is logical and persuasive. You can also use this knowledge to identify when writers are using an enthymeme to manipulate the audience’s emotions or to cover up a weak argument.

Enthymemes are commonly used in advertising and political campaigns to persuade the audience and win their support. Advertisements often rely on enthymemes to make emotional appeals and sell products. For example, an ad for a luxury car might use an enthymeme like, “If you want to be successful, you need to drive this car.” The missing premise here is that owning a luxury car is a symbol of success. By using this enthymeme, the advertiser is appealing to the audience’s desire for success and status.

Political campaigns also use enthymemes to persuade voters and win elections. Politicians often use slogans and catchphrases that rely on enthymemes to create emotional appeals and simplify complex issues. For example, a politician might use an enthymeme like, “Make America Great Again.” The missing premise here is that America is not great currently and needs to be made great again. By using this enthymeme, the politician is appealing to the audience’s nostalgia for a time when they believe America was great, without having to provide specific details about what that means or how it can be achieved.

Overall, enthymemes can be a powerful tool for persuasion in advertising and political campaigns. However, they can also be manipulative and misleading if they rely on faulty premises or emotional appeals rather than logical reasoning. As a reader or viewer, it’s important to be aware of how enthymemes are used in advertising and politics, so you can evaluate arguments and make informed decisions. As a writer, knowing how to use enthymemes effectively can help you create more persuasive arguments and engage your audience’s critical thinking skills.


Daniel Baxter Jackson III

Daniel Baxter Jackson III has been teaching English abroad for the last 21 years with stints in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. During this time, he's been crafting unique cultural interest stories about his experiences for travel websites such as Lonely Planet, Matador Network, and AFAR. His research into Second Language Acquisition (SLA) has appeared in Essential Teacher, ESL Magazine, The Indian Journal of Applied Linguistics, The CATESOL Journal and TESOL Arabia’s Perspectives.

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