AP Language Textbook Terms

ad hominem

Latin for "to the man," this fallacy refers to the specific diversionary tactic of switching the argument from the issue at hand to the character of the other speaker.

ad populum (bandwagon appeal)

This fallacy occurs when evidence boils down to "everybody's doing it, so it must be a good thing to do.


Repetition of the same sound beginning several words or syllables in sequence.


brief reference to a person, event, or place (real or fictitious) or to a work of art


a comparison between two seemingly dissimilar things


repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines


a brief story used to illustrate a point or claim


the taking of notes directly on a text


Repetition of words in reverse order


opposition, or contrast, of ideas or words in a parallel construction

appeal to false authority

This fallacy occurs when someone who has no expertise to speak on an issue is cited as an authority.

archaic diction

old-fashioned or outdated choice of words


A process of reasoned inquiry; a persuasive discourse resulting in a coherent and considered movement from a claim to a conclusion.

Aristotelian triangle

(Rhetorical Triangle) a diagram that illustrates the interrelationship among the speaker, audience, and the subject in determining a text.


a statement that presents a claim or thesis


warrant: In the Toulmin model, the warrant expresses the assumption necessarily shared by the speaker and the audience


omission of conjunctions between coordinate phrases, clauses, or words


the listener, viewer, or reader of a text


In the Toulmin model, backing consists of further assurances or data without which the assumption lacks authority.

bandwagon appeal

This fallacy occurs when evidence boils down to "everybody's doing it, so it must be a good thing to do.

begging the question

A fallacy in which a claim is based on evidence or support that is in doubt

circular reasoning

a fallacy in which the writer repeats the claim as a way to provide evidence


Also called an assertion or a proposition, a claim states the argument's main idea or position. A claim differs from a topic or subject in that a claim has to be arguable.

claim of fact

A claim of fact asserts that something is true or not true.

claim of policy

A claim of policy proposes a change.

claim of value

A claim of value argues that something is good or bad, right or wrong.

the classical oration

five-part argument structure used by classical rhetoricians

introduction (exordium)

introduces the reader to the subject under discussion

narration (narratio)

Provides factual information and background material on the subject at hand or establishes why the subject is a problem that needs addressing.

confirmation (confirmatio)

Usually the major part of the text, the confirmation includes the proof needed to make the writer's case.

refutation (refutatio)

Addresses the counterargument. It is a bridge between the writer's proof and conclusion.

conclusion (peroratio)

brings the essay to a satisfying close

closed thesis

A closed thesis is a statement of the main idea of the argument that also previews the major points the writer intends to make.

complex sentence

A sentence that includes one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

compound sentence

A sentence that includes at least two independent clauses


An acknowledgment that an opposing argument may be true or reasonable.


In classical oration, this major part of an argument comes between the narration and refutation; it provides the development of proof through evidence that supports the claims made by the speaker.


Meanings or associations that readers have with a word beyond its dictionary definition, or denotation.


The circumstances, atmosphere, attitudes, and events surrounding a text.


an opposing argument to the one a writer is putting forward

cumulative sentence

sentence that completes the main idea at the beginning of the sentence and then builds and adds on


Deduction is a logical process whereby one reaches a conclusion by starting with a general principle or universal truth (a major premise) and applying it to a specific case (a minor premise).


A speaker's choice of words. Analysis of diction looks at these choices and what they add to the speaker's message.

either/or (false dilemma)

In this fallacy, the speaker presents two extreme options as the only possible choices.


Essentially a syllogism with one of the premises implied, and taken for granted as understood.


A fallacy that uses a term with two or more meanings in an attempt to misrepresent or deceive.


Greek for "character." Speakers appeal to ethos to demonstrate that they are credible and trustworthy to speak on a given topic. Ethos is established by both who you are and what you say.


In classical oration, the introduction to an argument, in which the speaker announces the subject and purpose, and appeals to ethos in order to establish credibility.


Logical fallacies are potential vulnerabilities or weaknesses in an argument. They often arise from a failure to make a logical connection between the claim and the evidence used to support it

False Dilemma

In this fallacy, the speaker presents two extreme options as the only possible choices.

faulty analogy

a fallacy that occurs when an analogy compares two things that are not comparable

figurative language (figure of speech)

Nonliteral language, sometimes referred to as tropes or metaphorical language, often evoking strong imagery, figures of speech often compare one thing to another either explicitly (simile) or implicitly (metaphor). Other forms of figurative language inclu

first-hand evidence

Evidence based on something the writer knows, whether it's from personal experience, observations, or general knowledge of events.

Hasty Generalization

A fallacy in which a faulty conclusion is reached because of inadequate evidence.

horative sentence

sentence that exhorts, urges, entreats, implores, or calls to action


deliberate exaggeration used for emphasis or to produce a comic or ironic effect; an overstatement to make a point


a description of how something looks, feels, tastes, smells, or sounds

imperative sentence

sentence used to command or enjoin


From the Latin inducere, "to lead into"; a logical process whereby the writer reasons from particulars to universals, using specific cases in order to draw a conclusion, which is also called a generalization.


inverted order of words in a sentence (variation of the subject-verb-object order)


a figure of speech that occurs when a speaker or character says one thing but means something else, or when what is said is opposite of what is expected, creating a noticeable incongruity


Placement of two things closely together to emphasize similarities or differences

logical fallacy

Logical fallacies are potential vulnerabilities or weaknesses in an argument. They often arise from a failure to make a logical connection between the claim and the evidence used to support it.


Greek for "embodied thought." Speakers appeal to logos, or reason, by offering clear, rational ideas and using specific details, examples, facts, statistics, or expert testimony to back them up.


figure of speech that compares two things without using like or as


Figure of speech in which something is represented by another thing that is related to it or emblematic of it


An adjective, adverb, phrase, or clause that modifies a noun, pronoun, or verb. The purpose of a modifier is usually to describe, focus, or qualify.


the feeling created in the reader by a text


In classical oration, the factual and background information, establishing why a subject or problem needs addressing; it precedes the confirmation, or laying out of evidence to support claims made in the argument.


the process of changing a verb into a noun


the time and place a speech is given or a piece is written

open thesis

An open thesis is one that does not list all the points the writer intends to cover in an essay.


a paradox made up of two seemingly contradictory words


A statement or situation that is seemingly contradictory on the surface, but delivers an ironic truth.


similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses


Greek for "suffering" or "experience." Speakers appeal to pathos to emotionally motivate their audience. More specific appeals to pathos might play on the audience's values, desires, and hopes, on the one hand, or fears and prejudices, on the other.

periodic sentence

sentence whose main clause is withheld until the end


In classical oration, the final part of an argument. It follows the refutation and typically appeals to the pathos as it moves the audience toward the conclusion


Greek for "mask." The face or character that a speaker shows to his or her audience.


attribution of a lifelike quality to an inanimate object or an idea


Greek for "hostile." An aggressive argument that tries to establish the superiority of one opinion over all others. Polemics generally do not concede that opposing opinions have any merit.


the deliberate use of multiple conjunctions between coordinate phrases, clauses, or words

post hoc ergo propter hoc

This fallacy is Latin for "after which therefore because of which," meaning that it is incorrect to always claim that something is a cause just because it happened earlier. One may loosely summarize this fallacy by saying that correlation does not imply c


the spread of ideas and information to further a cause


the goal the speaker wants to achieve

qualified argument

an argument that is not absolute; acknowledges the merits of an opposing view, but develops a stronger case for its own position


In the Toulmin model, the qualifier uses words like usually, probably, maybe, in most cases, and most likely to temper the claim, making it less absolute.

qualitative evidence

evidence supported by reason, tradition, or precedent

quantitative evidence

Quantitative evidence includes things that can be measured, cited, counted, or otherwise represented in numbers-for instance, statistics, surveys, polls, census information.


In the Toulmin model, a rebuttal gives voice to possible objectives


A denial of the validity of an opposing argument. In order to sound reasonable, refutations often follow a concession that acknowledges that an opposing argument may be true or reasonable.


In the Toulmin model, a reservation explains the terms and conditions necessitated by the qualifier


Aristotle defined rhetoric as "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion." In other words, it is the art of finding ways of persuading an audience.

rhetorical appeal

Rhetorical techniques used to persuade an audience by emphasizing what they find most important or compelling. The three major appeals are to ethos (character), logos (reason), and pathos (emotion).

rhetorical question

figure of speech in the form of a question posed for rhetorical effect rather than for the purpose of getting an answer

rhetorical triangle (Aristotelian triangle)

A diagram that illustrates the interrelationship among the speaker, audience, and subject in determining a text.

Rogerian Argument

Developed by psychiatrist Carl Rogers, Rogerian arguments are based on the assumption that having a full understanding of an opposing position is essential to responding to it persuasively and refuting it in a way that is accommodating rather than alienat


the use of irony or sarcasm to critique society or an individual


Artful syntax; a deviation from the normal order of words. Common schemes include parallelism, juxtaposition, antithesis, and antimetabole.

second-hand evidence

Evidence that is accessed through research, reading, and investigation. It includes factual and historical information, expert opinion, and quantitative data.


A figure of speech used to explain or clarify an idea by comparing it explicitly to something else using the words, like, as, or as though


A mnemonic device that stands for Subject, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, and Speaker. It is a handy way to remember the various elements that make up the rhetorical situation.


the person or group who creates a text


A speaker's attitude toward the audience (differing from tone, the speaker's attitude toward the subject).


A fallacy that occurs when a speaker chooses a deliberately poor or oversimplified example in order to ridicule and refute an idea.


The topic of a text. What the text is about.


a logical structure that uses the major premise and minor premise to reach a necessary conclusion


figure of speech that uses a part to represent the whole


the arrangement of words into phrases, clauses, and sentences. This includes word order, the length and structure of sentences and such schemes as parallelism, juxtaposition, antithesis, and antimetabole


combining two or more ideas in order to create something more complex in support of a new idea


While this term generally means the written word, in the humanities it has come to mean any cultural product that can be "read" - meaning not just consumed and comprehended, but investigated. This includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, political cartoons,


A speaker's attitude toward the subject conveyed by the speaker's stylistic and rhetorical choices.

Toulmin Model

An approach to analyzing and constructing arguments created by British philosopher Stephen Toulmin. The Toulmin model can be stated as because (evidence as support), therefore (claim), since (warrant or assumption), on account of (backing), unless (reserv


Artful diction; from the Greek word for "turning," a figure of speech such as metaphor, simile, hyperbole, metonymy, or synecdoche.


A figure of speech in which something is presented as less important, dire, urgent, good, and soon, than it actually is. Often used for satire or comic effect. Also called litotes, it is the opposite of hyperbole


In the Toulmin model, the warrant expresses the assumption necessarily shared by the speaker and the audience.


In rhetoric, the use of laughter, humor, irony, and satire in the confirmation or refutation of an argument.


use of two different words in a grammatically similar way that produces different, often incongruous, meanings