'Aural' vs ' Oral': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on August 1, 2023

If you need to know the difference between 'aural' vs. 'oral,' this guide will help!

Here is the quick answer:

  • 'Aural' is an adjective that means of or related to the ears or hearing. 
  • 'Oral' is also an adjective relating to the mouth or sounds produced by the mouth. 
  • 'Oral' can also be a noun that means a speech or argument given orally. 

These terms are confusing because they are homophones and have different spellings, meanings, and usages, but they sound the same. So, to gain a complete understanding of these words, read this entire post.

What's the Difference Between 'Aural' and 'Oral?'

'Aural' and 'oral' are both adjectives. However, the latter can also be a noun for a written speech or argument.

In the adjective form, you use these terms in similar ways. However, they have different definitions.

  • 'Aural' refers to the ears, the ability to hear, or the sense of hearing.
  • 'Oral' relates to the mouth or audible messages from someone's mouth.

So, the former term represents the ears and hearing, while the latter relates to speech and auditory utterances.

You can remember that the first term relates to the ears because, like many words relating to hearing, it starts with au, for example:

  • Audio
  • Auditorium
  • Audiophile

Definition of 'Aural': What Does 'Aural' Mean?

According to the Merriam -Webster Dictionary, the definition of 'aural' is:

  • Relating to the ear or sense of hearing

'Synonyms of 'Aural'

  • Acoustic
  • Audile
  • Perceptible
  • Audible
  • Audiovisual
  • Heard
  • Discernible
  • Distinguishable
  • Distinct

Definition of 'Oral': What Does 'Oral' Mean?

The same defines 'oral' as an adjective that means:

  • Communicated by voice

It can also mean:

  • Expressed verbally

Synonyms of 'Oral'

  • Vocal
  • Spoken
  • Shouted
  • Whispered
  • Uttered
  • Voiced
  • Pronounced
  • Mumbled
  • Articulated
  • Splutterede
  • Enunciated
  • Mouth
  • Mumbled
  • Enunciated
  • Breathed
  • Muttered
  • Murmured
  • Purred
  • Chirped
  • Verbalized

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Aural' vs. 'Oral'

An essential part of learning the meaning of any word is how to pronounce it correctly. English speakers and writers uncomfortable with pronunciations are less likely to use those words in conversations or texts.

So, use this pronunciation reference guide to ensure you correctly say 'aural' and 'oral.'

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'aural':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'oral':


As you can see, these terms have the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings. So, they are homonyms.

How Do You Use 'Aural' vs. 'Oral?'

You've already learned a lot about these terms. You know the definitions, spellings, and pronunciations, So here are some tips on how and when to use them.

  • Use 'aural' to refer to something that relates to the ears.

For example, you might say:

I will not be available next Thursday. I must take my grandma to an aural test to make sure she does not need hearing aids.

  • Use 'aural' to refer to a test that requires you to use your ears.

For example, I might say:

Our music teacher is making us take an aural test so he can measure how capable the class is at picking specific musical features out of a sample.

  • Use 'oral' to reference something that requires you to use your verbal skills.

So, you could say:

Have you been practicing your speech for the oral exam? If not, you may want to because you have a brief

  • Use 'oral' for something relating to the mouth.

As an example, I might say:

The dentist performed an oral exam and then told his patient that he would have to schedule a special cleaning

  • Use 'oral' to refer to a verbal argument.

For example, you might hear someone say something like:

Despite him being one of the least experienced attorneys in the courtroom, the delivery of his oral arguments was flawless. 

  • Use 'aural' or 'oral' to explain a specific impairment that someone has.

For example, you could say:

When I first met Johnathon, I had no idea he had an aural impairment.


When I first met Johnathan, I had no idea he had an oral impairment. 

Sample Sentences Using 'Aural' and 'Oral'

Now that you know how to use each term correctly, read these sample sentences. They will show you how to use these terms and help you remember their differences.


  • The virtual assistant agency makes all their employees complete aural proficiency tests before they can start working with clients.
  • The aural exams test your ability to hear and process essential information without asking the person to repeat themselves multiple times.
  • Audiophiles like to get together once or twice a month to conduct aural tests on their stereo equipment.
  • Now that we know there is nothing wrong with you aurally, you should practice your active listening.


  • Many oral surgery patients experience significant pain as they heal.
  • The judge honored the plaintiff and defendant's oral agreement because it was recorded.
  • Routine oral care is vital to living a healthy, disease-free life.


  • I cannot believe how many word pairs are similar to the homophones, aural and oral.
  • During an oral exam, you have to give your answers verbally, and when you take an aural test, you have to listen to recordings, then answer questions about what you heard.
  • When our manager told us we were having an aural test this week, everyone thought he meant we would be asked questions and have to give oral responses. No one knew he meant we were all having our hearing tested.

A Final Review of the Difference Between 'Aural' vs. 'Oral'

Finally, let's quickly recap what you learned about 'aural' vs. 'oral.'

  • 'Aural' is an adjective describing something relating to the ears. 
  • 'Oral' is also an adjective that you use to indicate that something relates to or depends on the mouth.

If you ever need a reminder of which of these terms refers to hearing and which refers to the mouth or speaking, you can always return to this guide to review this lesson.

You can also use the other confusing word guides here to verify the meanings of some of the most commonly mistaken and misused terms in the English language.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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