Suppose we know that all the things matching category “B” fits completely inside the larger category
“A.” That’s the major premise, or the first argument. Suppose we can also prove that all things matching
category “C” also fit inside the category “B.” That’s the minor premise, or the second argument. From
these two statements, we can also conclude that all of “C” must fit in category “A” as well.
Major Premise: All zebras are striped
Minor Premise: No zebras are polar bears.
Conclusion: Therefore, no polar bears are
striped animals.
Major Premise: All clowns are funny
Minor Premise: Some sad people are
Conclusion: Therefore, some sad people
are funny individuals.
Major Premise: Some sticky substances are
yucky things.
Minor Premise: All taffy is a sticky
Conclusion: Therefore, some taffy is a
yucky thing.
Major Premise: All flies are winged
Minor Premise: All butterflies are winged
Conclusion: Therefore, all butterflies are
Major Premise: Those who study rhetoric
speak eloquently.
Minor Premise: AP Language and
Composition students study rhetoric.
Conclusion: AP Language and
Composition students speak eloquently.
•Major Premise: All people are mortal.
•Minor Premise: Aristotle was a person.
•Conclusion: Therefore, Aristotle was a mortal.
Restructured as an enthymeme:
Aristotle was mortal because he was a person.
Aristotle states that under LOGOS, or the content
of the message, the two most powerful tools are
the enthymeme and the example.
In an argument, the speaker or writer can leave
out the universal principle typically stated in a
syllogism because everyone should agree with it.
For example, everyone should agree that all
people are mortal.
“It is quite recent history, Lord Randolph was
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Salisbury
was Prime Minister, as he is now. And on the
same issue of economy Lord Randolph
Churchill went down - - forever. But wise
words, Sir, stand the test of time. And his
words were wise.”
- from the movie Young Winston
Which is not stated?
I wanted to serve as President because I love
this country and because I love the people of
this Nation.”
-Jimmy Carter, 1980 Concession Address
Major Premise:
Minor Premise:
Dr. Eldon Tyrell: “You were made as well as
we could make you.”
Roy Batty:
“But not to last.”
Dr. Eldon Tyrell: “The light that burns twice as
bright burns half as long, and
you have burned so very,
very brightly, Roy.”
Major Premise:
Minor Premise:
Which premise was not stated?
“Ladies and gentlemen, I will not divide the
Democratic Party. Therefore, tomorrow
morning I will write to the Chairman of the
Democratic Party withdrawing my
-Thomas F. Eagleton
Major Premise:
Minor Premise:
What premise is missing?
“Now, I don’t know or have never met my
candidate; and for that reason I am more
apt to say something good of him than
anyone else.”
-Will Rogers
Major Premise:
Minor Premise:
“The gloves didn’t fit. If it doesn’t fit, you must
-John Cochran,
Closing arguments of the O.J. Simpson trial
Major Premise:
Minor Premise:

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