Avoid rhetorical questions

A rhetorical question is a question asked not as a genuine inquiry but rather to suggest something or to make a point.

An example of such a question is:

Who could disagree with the statement that our political system is effective?

What the questions suggests is that “No intelligent person can dispute that our political system is effective.”

There are a few problems here.

The main problem with this type of question is that almost always there is someone who will answer in a way you don’t anticipate. Another issue is that often such questions are used in place of careful argument, and they are a poor substitution.

Finally, they take up more space than it would take to simply state the point, and they lack the clarity and conviction of a good declarative statement.

Sources in this article

We strongly encourage students to use sources in their work. You can cite our article (APA Style) or take a deep dive into the articles below.

This Scribbr article

Bryson, S. (March 27, 2017). Avoid rhetorical questions. Scribbr. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-writing/avoid-rhetorical-questions/

Is this article helpful?
Shane Bryson

Shane finished his master's degree in English literature in 2013 and has been working as a writing tutor and editor since 2009. He began proofreading and editing essays with Scribbr in early summer, 2014.

Your paper without awkward language mistakes?

Scribbr's professional editors can help!
Learn more
Trustpilot score of 4.8