Chapter 9-4-3: The Rhetorical Question

Normally, an essay or report will not contain many regular direct questions, since you are writing it to present information or to make an argument. There is, however, a special type of direct question called a rhetorical question -- that is, a question which you do not actually expect the reader to answer:

Why did the War of 1812 take place? Some scholars argue that it was simply a land-grab by the Americans ...

If you do not overuse them, rhetorical questions can be a very effective way to introduce new topics or problems in the course of a paper; if you use them too often, however, you may sound patronising and/or too much like a professor giving a mediocre lecture.

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