OALD article about 'read':

He read the poem aloud.

She read us a story.

The examples provided by OALD seems to point out that if you want to refer to a person reading something audibly, it should be used as an intransitive verb with a 2nd object, or an adverb to facilitate the designated meaning.

Is my speculation correct? Is there is a case of exception?

And, if I want to point out that someone is reading a book audibly (not specially loudly) in library, instead of saying "read out" and "read to himself/herself", what other choice of words do I have?

2 Answers 2


There's no inherent implication in the word read that the reading is silent. Modern practice is for people to usually read silently when they read to themselves, but before the Middle Ages it was customary to read aloud even when by yourself.

Since most of the time people now read silently, read by itself usually does mean silently, but only in the same way that walk by itself means walking forward: In a passage about a culture where people usually walked backward, you'd presume the opposite.

If I were describing someone's reading out-loud-but-quietly in a library, I would usually either say either:

He read the poem aloud quietly.

Or, depending on the particulars of the situation:

She read the poem under her breath.


The dictionary link you provided answers your question:

read (v.) to go through written or printed words, etc. in silence or speaking them to other people (emphasis added)

The part of the definition I've put in bold pretty much confirms what you've suspected: if you really want the other person to know whether it was a silent reading or a read-aloud session, you'll have to find some way to specify that with an adverb, or by using a clause (as in, "She read the book to the children").

As for the scenario you describe, I might try:

In the library, she read the book softly.

The word softly implies audibly, but also explicitly indicates that it wasn't a boisterous reading. NOAD defines softly as "in a quiet voice or manner."

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