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AP Language and Composition Resources:


Basic terms list

Glossary of terms

Key Assignment words

Levels of language








Analysis aids: PAPA square


Rhetorical Triangle





Power Verbs

Tone Words




Writing Guidelines for essays. Pattern of Attack for M/C





AP basic rubric 1

Test Descriptors

Synthesis Rhetorical Analysis Argument Analysis







Introduction to Rhetoric PowerPoint Close


Every A.P. English student should be familiar with the basic terms used to describe style—imagery, diction, syntax, figures of speech, structure and tone. In addition, here are some more relatively useful terms used to describe techniques of language and argument.

Figures of Speech metaphor

simile personification apostrophe allusion hyperbole

irony understatement paradox oxymoron epithet

bathos euphemism

Figures of rhetoric parallelism periodic sentence

loose or cumulative sentence balanced sentence

rhetorical question antithesis

inversion anaphora

antistrophe (epistrophe)


Methods of development cause and effect classification

process analysis definition comparison/contrast analogy and metaphor

Forms and genres

Modes of discourse:




-persuasion satire


mock heroic allegory fable

myth parable

Persuasive appeals

logos pathos ethos
Devices in logic argument syllogism

major/minor premise induction/deduction rebuttal qualify/qualifier essential/operational fallacies in logic:

Miscellaneous point of view audience

voice literal/figurative denotation/connotation theme/motif elegy/elegiac


Sound devices alliteration onomatopoeia

-hasty generalization

-faulty causality (false cause)

-begging the question


-non sequitur

-either/or choice

-ad hominem

Glossary of Important Grammatical, Literary, and Rhetorical Terms

Abstract: refers to things that are intangible, that is, which are perceived not through the senses but by the mind, such as truth, God, education, vice, transportation, poetry, war, love.
Ad Hominem: / ăd hŏm ə nəm /An argument based on the failings of an adversary rather than on the merits of the case; a logical fallacy that involves a personal attack.; relies on intimidation and ignorance

Ad Misericordiam fallacy Appeal to Pity, attempts to evoke feelings of pity or compassion not relevant

Allegory: Extending a metaphor so that objects, persons, and actions in a text are equated with meanings that lie outside the text. A sustained metaphor continued through whole sentences or eve through a whole discourse.
Alliteration: repetition of the same sound beginning several words in sequence.

*Let us go forth to lead the land we love. J. F. Kennedy, Inaugural

**Veni, vidi, vici. Julius Caesar

Allusion: A brief, usually indirect reference to a person, place, or event--real or fictional.

Ambiguity: The presence of two or more possible meanings in any passage. The result of expressing an idea in words that have two or more possible meanings. Ambiguity is sometimes unintentional, as when a pronoun is used without a clear referent [antecedent].

Anacoluthon: ( n -k -lth n ) lack of grammatical sequence; a change in the grammatical construction within the same sentence.

*Agreements entered into when one state of facts exists -- are they to be maintained regardless of changing conditions? J.


Anadiplosis: ( n -d -pl s s) ("doubling back") the rhetorical repetition of one or several words; specifically, repetition of a word that ends one clause at the beginning of the next.

*Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business.

Francis Bacon

Analogy: Reasoning or arguing from parallel cases. A set of point-by point resemblances between members of the same class or between different classes.
Anaphora: (ə năf ər ə) the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines.

*We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, 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. We shall never surrender. Churchill.

Anastrophe: transposition of normal word order; most often found in Latin in the case of prepositions and the words they control.

Anastrophe is a form of hyperbaton.

*The helmsman steered; the ship moved on; yet never a breeze up blew. Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Anathem: ( -n th -m ) an object of intense dislike; a curse or strong denunciation (often used adjectivally without the article)
Antecedent: ( n t -s d nt)The noun or noun phrase referred to by a pronoun.

Anthimeria: the use of one part of speech (or word class) for another

“Hey, my checker reached the other side; king me.”

Anticlimax: see Bathos

Antimetabole (an-tee-meh-TA-boe-lee): Figure of emphasis in which the words in one phrase or clause are replicated, exactly or closely, in reverse grammatical order in the next phrase or clause; an inverted order of repeated words in adjacent phrases or clauses (A-B, B-A). (Related to Chiasmus but exact wording)

"The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence." -- Carl Sagan

"We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." -- Benjamin Franklin

Antistrophe: [æn ‘tɪs trə fɪ]repetition of the same word or phrase at the end of successive clauses. (Also called Epistrophe)

*In 1931, ten years ago, Japan invaded Manchukuo -- without warning. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia -- without warning. In

1938, Hitler occupied Austria -- without warning. In 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia -- without warning. Later in

1939, Hitler invaded Poland -- without warning. And now Japan has attacked Malaya and Thailand -- and the United

States --without warning. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Antithesis: [æn ‘tɪ θɪ sɪs]opposition, or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction.

*Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. Barry Goldwater

*Brutus: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

*The vases of the classical period are but the reflection of classical beauty; the vases of the archaic period are beauty itself." Sir John Beazley

Aphorism/epigram [‘æf ə ‘rɪ zəm]A concise statement designed to make a point or a common belief. (1) A tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion.

(2) A brief statement of a principle.

Example: A penny saved is a penny earned- - Ben Franklin
Aposiopesis: [‘æ pə ˌ’saɪ ə ‘pi sɪs]a form of ellipse by which a speaker comes to an abrupt halt, seemingly overcome by passion (fear, excitement, etc.) or modesty.

Apostrophe: A rhetorical term for breaking off discourse to address some absent person or thing;a sudden turn from the general audience to address a specific group or person or personified abstraction absent or present.

*For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.

Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Appeal to Authority: A fallacy in which a speaker or writer seeks to persuade not by giving evidence but by appealing to the respect people have for a famous person or institution.

Appeal to Flattery Sucking Up, (plain folks is a subcategory) Apple Polishing: whenever a person attempts to compliment or flatter another in order to get her to accept the truth of a proposition. In some instances, it may be implied that the person deserves the flattery because they accept the position in question.

Appeal to Ignorance; A fallacy that uses an opponent's inability to disprove a conclusion as proof of the conclusion's correctness.

Appeal to Prejudice fallacy: Arguing from a bias or emotional identification or involvement with an idea (argument, doctrine, institution, etc.).

Appositive: [ə ‘pɒ zɪ tɪv] a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause which follows a noun or pronoun and renames or describes the noun or pronoun. Appositives are often set off by commas.

“Tom, the new student, arrived the second week of class.” Tom= the new student

Jimbo Gold, a professional magician, performed at my sister's birthday party. Jimbo Gold=a professional magician,.

Archaism: [ɑrk keɪ ˌɪzəm]use of an older or obsolete form.

*Pipit sate upright in her chair

Some distance from where I was sitting; T. S. Eliot, "A Cooking Egg"

Argument ad ignorantium fallacy: that, because a premise cannot be proven false, the premise must be true; or that, because a premise cannot be proven true, the premise must be false. Arguer offers a conclusion and calls on opponent to disprove the conclusion. If opponent cannot, arguer asserts conclusion is true.

Argument ad populum fallacy: An argument that if many believe it so, it is so

Argument: A course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating truth or falsehood.

Argumentum ad hominem fallacy "to the man":Name Calling and Personal Attack: uses derogatory implications or innuendos to turn people against a rival. Name-calling by itself is not technically an ad hominem fallacy. Rather, the attack on the arguer must occur as an ostensible attack on an argument. If no argument is offered there is no ad hominem (or any other kind of fallacy) at work.

Argumentum ad populum fallacy Bandwagon appeal to popularity, authority of the many: relies on the uncritical acceptance of others' opinions; something must be true because many or all people believe it is.

Argumentum ad traditio fallacy Appeal to Inertia (don't rock the boat ) based on the principle of "letting sleeping dogs lie". We should continue to do things as they have been done in the past. We shouldn't challenge time-honored customs or traditions.

Assonance: repetition of the same sound in words close to each other.

*Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.

Asyndeton: [æ ‘sɪn dɪ tən]lack of conjunctions between coordinate phrases, clauses, or words. (opposite of polysyndeton).

*We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardships, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and

the success of liberty. J. F. Kennedy, Inaugural

*But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. Lincoln, Gettysburg


Atmosphere: the general feeling or emotion created in the reader at a given point in a literary work (mood)

Audience one's listener or readership; those to whom a speech or piece of writing is addressed
Balanced sentence a type of parallel construction in which two major sentence elements that contrast with one another are balanced between a coordinating conjunction

Bandwagon: An appeal that tries to get its audience to adopt and opinion that “everyone else” is said to hold. Popular with advertisers and political candidates, attempts to get us to jump on a bandwagon rely on our eagerness to be on the winning side.

*The candidate that “everyone is voting for,” and the jeans “everyone will be wearing”
Bathos: An abrupt, unintended transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect, an anticlimax.

* He has seen the ravages of war, he has known natural catastrophes, he has been to singles bars: (Woody Allen).

OR Insincere or grossly sentimental pathos: "a richly textured man who . . . can be . . . sentimental to the brink of bathos" (Kenneth L. Woodward).

OR Banality; triteness.

Begging the question: see circular reasoning

Cacophony: [kə ‘kɒ fə nɪ] harsh joining of sounds.

*We want no parlay with you and your grisly gang who work your wicked will. W. Churchill

Catachresis: [‘kæt ə ‘kri: sɪs]a harsh metaphor involving the use of a word beyond its strict sphere. See Synethsesia

*I listen vainly, but with thirsty ear. MacArthur, Farewell Address

Cause and effect A method of development in which a writer analyzes reasons for an action, event, or decision, or analyzes its consequences.

Cherry picking/Card Stacking fallacy the act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.

Chiasmus: [kaɪ ˈæz məs]two corresponding pairs arranged not in parallels (a-b-a-b) but in inverted order (a-b-b-a); from shape of the Greek letter chi (X).

*Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always. MacArthur

Circular Argument: ( Begging the question) An argument that commits the logical fallacy of assuming what it is attempting to prove. Asserts an unsupported premise and later restates that premise as a conclusion.

*Here is an example [of begging the question] taken from an article on exclusive men's clubs in San Francisco. In explaining why these clubs have such long waiting lists, Paul B. 'Red' Fay, Jr. (on the roster of three of the clubs) said, 'The reason

there's such a big demand is because everyone wants to get in them.' In other words, there is a big demand because there is a big demand."

(H. Kahane and N. Cavender, Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life, 10th ed.

Wadsworth, 2006)

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