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When should you use a rhetorical question rather than a sentence? If I had to squeeze that into the format of a sentence, that would be really strange.“So sometimes, you should use a question rather than a sentence.” That doesn’t have quite the same punch.
Many people can and have made the argument that rhetoric as a whole is used more often in informal writing and speech.
In informal settings, such as a blog post (like this one), a speech, an article directed toward children, or a work of fiction, they tend to be used more often.
Though a rhetorical question does not require a direct answer, in many cases it may be intended to start a discussion or at least draw an acknowledgement that the listener understands the intended message.
A common example is the question "Can't you do anything right?
We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
Are you coming off as degrading or terse, repeating the same information or obvious information in a new way to make it sound like you’re saying something entirely new?It seems, then, that the use of a rhetorical question mostly depends on your tone and your audience. Stephanie Nolan, an editor for Online Writing Jobs, is a graduate of the S. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.But it also depends on the writer and their comfort level with using them. Since college, she's both edited and written film scripts, press releases, fictional stories, and articles." This question, when posed, is intended not to ask about the listener's ability but rather to insinuate the listener's lack of ability.A rhetorical question may be intended as a challenge.The question is often difficult or impossible to answer.In the example, What have the Romans ever done for us?It can even be a necessity in some situations where any other type of sentence just wouldn’t do what you want.It’s hard to hammer a nail when you’re unnecessarily limiting yourself to screwdrivers and large rocks.In an academic setting, they’re especially frowned upon.But in a public speech or a TED talk, for instance, they’re very often used to call attention and point out main discussion points.