What is a rhetorical question?
A rhetorical question is a question that does not require an answer, either because the person asking the question expects to answer the question himself, or believes that only one answer is possible. They can be quite powerful, and are often used to make a point or add a bit of flair to what you're saying.
Imagine you're telling a story about someone who did something super obvious, like wearing a raincoat in a downpour. You might say, "And then he put on his raincoat. I mean, who wouldn't?" That "who wouldn't?" is a rhetorical question. You're not actually asking because, well, it's obvious!
- "Is the Pope Catholic?", "Is the sky blue?", "Do bears .... in the woods." These rhetorical questions are often used if someone is trying to emphasise how easy it is to do something, or how obvious something is.
- "What's in a name?" is a famous rhetorical question from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." Juliet 🌹 asks it to express her frustration that Romeo's last name is Montague, the rival family of her own, the Capulets. Essentially, she's questioning why names - mere words - should define who we are or dictate our actions. She's pondering on the arbitrary nature of how names can have such a profound impact on our lives, especially in the context of their forbidden love. It's a powerful way of questioning the importance we place on labels and social constructs.
- "Who does not love his country?" Imagine being asked this. It would be a brave person who answered it.
So, be warned: People often use rhetorical questions to manipulate opinion, and they often turn up in political speeches, but on the lighter side they can also be used in a humorous way, as George Carlin, the comedian once asked, "When will all the rhetorical questions end?"
Note! You can practise asking and answering questions on our Live Chat page, or Discord Server. Or maybe log into a Chat AI program and ask it some questions, just be careful of the answer you get.