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‘Aloud’ or ‘Out Loud’?

The difference between aloud and out loud is that aloud used to be the only proper option and today aloud is still the more formal option, whereas out loud is somewhat more informal. Use aloud in a sermon or an academic paper, but it's fine to use out loud in a blog post or Facebook post.

By
Mignon Fogarty

To read out loud and to read aloud mean the same thing, but in the old days, aloud was the only cultured option.  

In the early 1900s, usage guide writers looked down their noses at out loud and called it “colloquial.” Today, out loud and aloud are both fine, although aloud still feels more high-brow and formal. 

Which word people use seems to vary depending on the context and the exact phrase. For example, in published books that Google has scanned, aloud is more common; but in Reddit comments, out loud is more common, which doesn’t surprise me since published books are much more formal documents than Reddit comments.

But even in published books, in some phrases, out loud is more common. For example, I said that out loud is more common than I said that aloud. It seems like when people are expressing the feeling I can’t believe I said that, they stick with out loud.

The quick and dirty tip is that you can use either aloud or out loud—whichever sounds more natural to you—but if you want to be a stickler, aloud is probably better for solemn or formal occasions such as asking someone to “read aloud” in church.

To continue following along with the podcast, open the next segment in a new window: How to Craft Strong Voice.

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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