Aural vs Oral: The Difference Between Hearing and Speaking

Aural and oral are homophones that are often confused, but learning the difference between aural vs oral is easier than you might think.

When two words sound the same but have different meanings, they are known as homophones. Aural vs oral gets confusing in the English language because they both sound the same. When it’s time to write, you may not be sure which spelling to use.

Thankfully, understanding these different but often confused words and their meanings is not difficult, once you understand some common uses. This guide will help you understand them better.

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Deciphering The Meaning Between Aural Vs Oral

Aural vs oral

In order to use aural and oral correctly, you must know the meaning and etymology of both words. This will help you know if you are giving an “oral report” or an “aural report” when you get ready for your next class.

What Does Aural Mean?

What does aural mean?
Aural this word comes from the Latin root Auris, which means “pertaining to the ear”

Aural spelled with an “au” means “of or relating to the ear or the sense of hearing” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. This word comes from the Latin root Auris, which means “pertaining to the ear”. The first syllable of “aural” is spelled the same as “Auris,” so that makes it easier to keep these straight.

Thus, aural refers to sound and hearing. These example sentences show proper uses of the word:

  • Her aural challenges meant she had to wear a hearing aid.
  • People use both visual and aural means to communicate.
  • Some students learn as visual learners, while others need to hear the words spoken because they are aural learners.

Words Derived From Aural

Aural is the basic root word for a number of additional words that have a similar first two letters. Some of these include:

  • Auditory – Adjective that means relating to or experienced through hearing.
  • Aurally – Adverb that refers to by means of the ears or hearing.
  • Audial – Adjective that means relating to or affecting the sense of hearing.
  • Auricular – Adjective that refers to using the ear or sense of hearing.

Each of these words has to do with sound or hearing, which connects them to the word aural.

What Does Oral Mean?

What does oral mean?
Oral can mean uttered by the mouth or in words

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has three definitions of oral. These include:

  • Uttered by the mouth or in words
  • Of, given through, or involving the mouth
  • Using speech or the lips 

In other words, something that is “oral” is having to do with the mouth or spoken words. This term is commonly used in dentistry because dentists focus on the health of the mouth and good oral hygiene. The word comes from the Latin word os, which referred to the mouth. 

Here are some examples of the word oral used in a sentence:

  • The student was nervous about giving his first oral report.
  • Because he was afraid of needles, the child preferred the oral vaccine. 
  • To help auditory learners, the teacher gave oral tests from time to time.

Words Derived from Oral

Oral is the base word for a number of additional words you can use in your writing. these include:

  • Orally – An adjective that means delivered or spoken by the mouth. 
  • Orality – A noun that speaks of the quality of being spoken or verbally communicated.

A Final Word on Aural vs Oral

Both aural and oral refer to different senses. Aural refers to hearing and sound, while oral refers to the mouth, spoken words, and dental hygiene.

These homophones are often confused because, in spoken English, they sound nearly identical. By connecting the word aural with auditory, which both start with “au,” you may be able to keep the similarly-sounding words straight. If you like this post, you might be interested in our lets vs. let’s explainer.

FAQs About Aural vs Oral

What is the difference between arual and oral?

The primary difference between the word aural and the word oral is the sense or body part the words refer to. Aural refers to the auditory system, which includes hearing and the sensing of sound. Oral refers to the mouth, including spoken word and food or medication consumed orally. 

How do you pronounce aural vs oral?

The words aural and oral are considered homophones because they are often pronounced the same. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary backs up this statement because it gives the same pronunciation guide for both words: ˈȯr-əl.

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.