Difference Between Verbal and Oral

Verbal vs Oral

Verbal and Oral are two words in English language that are often confused when it comes to their meanings and usage. Actually they are two different words that should be used with precision. 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’. Observe the sentence

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’.

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’. 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 difference.