Rhetorical Device: Hypophora

Hypophora is a rhetorical device that involves asking a question and then immediately providing an answer to that same question. This method of questioning and answering can be used to make a point, to emphasize a point, or to draw attention to a particular concept. It is also useful if the speaker's goal is to invite the audience to consider a concept from a different perspective

To use this device effectively, it is important to ask thought-provoking questions. If the question is too simplistic or obvious, the audience will lose interest. Once the question is posed, the speaker should provide an answer that is interesting and thought-provoking.


There is something special about tonight.
What is different? What is special?
I, Barbara Jordan, am a keynote speaker. Barbara Jordan, "DNC Keynote Address" (12 July 1976)

You ask, what is our policy? I will say it is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory, there is no survival. Winston Churchill, "Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat" (13 May 1940)

WWS rhetorical device explainer card on hypophora
So where do we go from here? What do we need?
Obviously we need money. We need financing in order to build these tools. Technology is expensive to build but the beauty of technology is once you build the warehouse, it gets more efficient and -- and more cost effective over time.Ashton Kutcher, "Opening Statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Ending Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking" (15 February 2017)

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. Martin Luther King, Jr., "I have a Dream" (28 August 1963)

Our people have had more happiness and prosperity over a wider area, for a longer time than men have ever had since they began to live in ordered societies 4000 years ago. Since we have come so far, who shall be rash enough to set limits on our future progress? Who shall say that since we have gone so far, we can go no farther? Who shall say that the American dream is ended? For myself, I believe that all we have done upon this continent is but a prelude to a future in which we shall become not only a bigger people but also a wiser people, a better people, an even greater people.Adlai Stevenson, "Campaign Speech" (1952)

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon -- We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we're willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too. John F. Kennedy, "Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Program" (12 September 1962)

How can it [achieving the right to vote for women] be done? By a simple change of mental attitude. If we are to seize the victory, that change must take place in this hall, here and now! Carrie Chapman Catt, "The Crisis" (7 September 1916)

Further reading

  • Wikipedia: Hypophora Visit
  • Silva Rhetoricæ: The Forest of Rhetoric Visit
  • Literary Devices: Hypophora Visit
  • Nordquist, Richard: "Hypophora (Rhetoric)", ThoughtCo Visit
  • American Rhetoric: Hypophora Visit