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Oral or aural , spoken or heard

The spelling and pronunciation are different, as are the meanings, of these two words but they are all similar enough to be misused without most people realising.

aural: [adjective] related to the ear or the sense of hearing
An aural learner may study better by reading notes out loud or discussing the concepts.

oral: [adjective] the mouth or related to the mouth
His oral presentation was fanatic but his written report was poor. Babies putting everything into their mouth is known as the oral stage of development.

You may be able to remember which is which by thinking of the O you make with your mouth being oral.

10 Responses to Oral or aural , spoken or heard

  • Paul Hassing says:

    Nice one, Tash! Nothing like a bit of learning to start one’s day on the right foot. Best regards, P. 🙂

  • UmiNoor says:

    There are many other pairs of words that people get confused about. And I guess “aural” and “oral” even though may sound similar are very different in meaning. I sometimes get confused using these two words. Other pairs of words that people often get confused about are : “your’ and “you’re”, “then” and “than”, “loose” and “lose”. I often see these words used incorrectly on the Internet. It can be quite annoying when people can’t be bothered to be precise in their usage of words. Perhaps you can write an article listing all these confusing words.

  • onewrongmove says:

    Interesting. As far as I know, “oral” and “aural” are used interchangeably for music exams and assessments. However there is good reason for this, because normally you are supposed to listen to the piece first before you sing it. That made me think that “aural” was just another word for “oral” for years… how mistaken I was.

    • tashword says:

      I think many people don’t know aural and oral are different words – understandably as they sound pretty much the same, especially when people talk fast. Thanks for sharing your story, onewrongmove 🙂

      It’s true that a music exam may involve listening and singing, but think of using the those words in a music exam for a violin for example – then there is no oral component. You’re right that both words maybe used but I suspect ‘aural’ is the correct term (a musician may know otherwise – I don’t claim to be a music expert!)

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