Difference Between Verbal and Oral

Verbal vs Oral
 

The confusion people experience in understanding when to use verbal and oral is due to the fact that the difference between verbal and oral is  very slim. Only by understanding this difference one can use verbal and oral with precision. In English, the word oral is used as an adjective as well as a noun. Then, the word verbal is used as an adjective, noun as well as a verb. The word oral has its origins in the early 17th century while the word verbal has its origins in the late 15th century. It should be noted that verbal is used as a verb only in British informal English.

What does Oral mean?

The word oral is used as an adjective in the sense of ‘by word of mouth’. It refers to spoken language and not written language. Anything, especially medicine taken by mouth, is referred to by the word oral as in the expression ‘oral medication’ or ‘oral contraceptive’. The word oral is used in the sense of anything that is dictated as in the sentence ‘he dictated it orally.’  It is interesting to note that the word oral has its adverbial form too in the word orally. The noun form of oral is oration.

What does Verbal mean?

On the other hand, the word verbal refers to something concerned with words as in the expression ‘verbal indication’ or ‘verbal distinction’. Anything of the nature of verbs is often referred to as verbal as in the expression ‘verbal inflections’. Sometimes the word verbal is used in the sense of literal as in the expression ‘verbal translation’. Observe the sentence given below.

It was a verbal translation of Paradise Lost.

In the sentence given above, the use of the word verbal is made in such a way that it gives the sense of ‘literal’. The meaning of the sentence would be ‘it was a literal translation of Paradise Lost’. The word verbal too has its adverbial form in the word verbally. The noun form of verbal is verbatim.

Difference Between Verbal and Oral

What is the difference between Verbal and Oral?

• The word oral is used as an adjective in the sense of ‘by word of mouth’. It refers to spoken language and not written language.

• On the other hand, the word verbal refers to something concerned with words as in the expression ‘verbal indication’ or ‘verbal distinction’. This is the main difference between the two words, namely verbal and oral.

• Anything of the nature of verbs is often referred to as verbal as in the expression ‘verbal inflections’.

• Sometimes the word verbal is used in the sense of literal as in the expression ‘verbal translation’.

• Anything, especially medicine taken by mouth, is referred to by the word oral as in the expression ‘oral medication’ or ‘oral contraceptive’.

• The word oral is used in the sense of anything that is dictated.

• The word oral has its adverbial form too in the word orally. In the same way, the word verbal too has its adverbial form in the word verbally.

• These two words have their noun forms too in the word oration and verbatim respectively.

These are the differences between the two adjectives, namely, oral and verbal. In fact, both of them should be understood with precision so that they can be used with a difference.

Images Courtesy:

  1. Verbal Diarrhea by Terry2691 (CC BY-ND 3.0)