When is a question not a question?

Answer: When it’s a rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is a question (yes, it has a question mark at the end) that does not ask for, or require an answer.  It is meant to emphasize a point, and when used well, can be a strong technique for building or strengthening your case.

Meant to focus the reader’s attention on a problem as the writer sees it, the rhetorical question is frequently meant to “set up” an issue for the reader’s consideration. While frequently used as the first sentence in a new paragraph, it may be used anywhere in the piece, as appropriate.

How do we need to deal with this crisis? First, we must remain calm, and view the situation analytically. Second, devise a plan to deal with it. Third, assign the work to our people with the most experience in this field.


Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

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