Aural vs. Oral – How to Use Each Correctly
What’s the Difference Between Aural and Oral?
Aural and oral are confusing because they can be pronounced the same way, and they each can relate to a different one of the five senses.
Aural relates to the ear or the sense of hearing. It has two correct pronunciations, one of which is the same as oral. The alternate pronunciation is also very similar to that of oral.
- Hearing Mozart’s Requiem is an aural sensation.
Oral relates to the mouth, either through making speech or through taking medication.
- This is not an oral dose of medicine, so do not eat it. You must instead spread it on your skin. If you eat it accidentally, go to the hospital immediately as it can make you very sick.
Let’s look at a few ways to use these words in your sentences.
Using Aural in a Sentence
When to use aural: Aural is an adjective that shows a relationship to ears or to hearing.
- She developed aural difficulties so she wears a hearing aid.
- People communicate by both visual and aural means.
- The artist likes to create art with an aural component. Therefore, when you press different parts of his art pieces, it creates different sounds.
- Some students are visual learners and learn by reading or seeing. Other students use aural learning and learn by listening.
Aural has a second definition as an adjective that means related to an aura. In this sense it relates to an atmosphere or quality surrounding a person.
- The masked man had an aura of mystery.
- The psychic also did aural readings. She claimed my aura was purple.
Using Oral in a Sentence
When to use oral: Oral acts as an adjective that refers to something either spoken or related to a mouth.
- I’m glad the test isn’t a written essay, but I’m a little nervous about the oral component.
- None of the students wanted to give an oral requirement, but alas, it was a requirement for graduation.
- The witness had to give oral testimony against the murderer in order to convict him.
- Oral hygiene is very important for people who wish to avoid developing cavities.
Some common collocates that frequently appear with the word oral include oral exam, oral history, oral arguments, and oral traditions. Oral also commonly appears within the field of health and medicine.
Remembering Aural vs. Oral
One way to remember the meanings for each of these words is to use their Latin origins.
Aural comes from the Latin root auris. The aur from both words sounds like, and is spelled in a similar way to, the English word ear.
Oral comes from the Latin root os. In this word, only the letter o is the same as its English counterpart mouth.
- In the long skeins of notes in a Bach partita or fugue, Mr. Teshigawara’s choreography finds an aural counterpart, nearly becoming a kind of freehand music visualization. –New York Times
- The sprawling industrial manufacturing complex, wedged between Broadway and South Santa Fe Drive south of Yale Avenue, ceased operations in 1986 after 60 years as a key employer and aural and visual anchor for nearby residents. –Denver Post
- The grant supported the chronicling of migration of all peoples – including oral histories being collected by teen and young adult volunteers through the Santa Ana Public Library. But most of the works of art address the immigration of Latinos to the United States. –OC Register
- “We heard oral argument in these appeals on May 30, 2017, more than five months after the 2016 general election,” the opinion stated. “That naturally raises the question whether the case is moot.” –Chicago Sun Times
Quiz: Oral vs. Aural
Instructions: Fill in the blank with the correct word, either oral or aural, in the correct form.
- My family recipe for cookies is so secret that it has never been written down. It has passed down through the generations as an ___________ tradition.
- These caves are famous for the interesting _____________ effect they have. It sounds as if the cave walls themselves are singing.
- ___________ exams are a good alternative for students who panic during written tests.
See answers below.
Should I use aural or oral? These words each refer to a different sensory experience.
- Aural is an adjective that is related to ears and hearing.
- Oral is an adjective that is related to speaking or the mouth.
Both words are commonly used in the healthcare field, and oral is more common than aural.
Answers from Quiz