The Linguistics of Advertising: How Companies Use Language to Sell Products

Advertising is a pervasive part of our modern world. From billboards and commercials to social media and pop-up ads, businesses are constantly vying for our attention and our money. But have you ever stopped to think about how these companies use language to persuade us to buy their products? Linguistics, the study of language and its use, plays a crucial role in the field of advertising. By understanding how language works and how it can be manipulated, companies are able to craft messages that appeal to our emotions and desires, often without us even realizing it. One of the most common linguistic techniques used in advertising is the use of emotional appeals. Advertisements often try to elicit strong emotions like happiness, fear, or nostalgia in order to make us feel a certain way about a product. For example, a commercial for a car might show a family going on a road trip, with happy music and cheerful voiceovers, to create a sense of excitement and joy around the idea of owning this car. Another important aspect of advertising language is the use of persuasive techniques like repetition, exaggeration, and euphemisms. These devices are designed to make a product seem more attractive and desirable than it might actually be. For example, a shampoo commercial might claim that its product will make your hair "shinier than ever" or "healthier than ever before", even if the product only has minor benefits. In addition to these persuasive techniques, many companies also use language that plays on our cultural values and beliefs. Advertisements often rely on familiar cultural symbols and references to create a sense of connection with their audience. For example, a commercial for a fast food restaurant might feature a happy family sitting around a table, enjoying a meal together, to tap into the cultural value of family togetherness. Moreover, linguistic analysis in advertising also involves the use of specific words and phrases that can influence our perceptions of a product. Words like "natural", "organic", and "wholesome" are often used to create a sense of health and wellness around a product, even if it doesn't actually have any health benefits. Similarly, phrases like "limited time only" and "while supplies last" can create a sense of urgency and scarcity that makes us more likely to buy a product. It's important to note that not all advertising is manipulative or dishonest. Many companies use language to highlight real benefits and features of their products in a truthful and transparent way. However, it is important to also be aware of the ways in which language can be used to deceive or manipulate us. In conclusion, the role of linguistics in advertising is a fascinating and complex subject. By understanding how language can be used to persuade and manipulate us, we can better protect ourselves from false advertising claims and make informed consumer choices. As we continue to navigate the world of advertising and consumerism, it is important to remain critical and aware of the language and techniques that companies use to sell us their products.
  • Emotional appeals are a common linguistic technique used in advertising.
  • Persuasive techniques like repetition, exaggeration, and euphemisms are also used to make a product seem more desirable.
  • Language that plays on cultural values and beliefs can create a sense of connection with a product.
  • Specific words and phrases can influence our perceptions of a product.


  • Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A. (2014). Advertising and promotion: An integrated marketing communications perspective. McGraw Hill.
  • Cook, G. (2001). The discourse of advertising. Routledge.