I was about to read a term paper written by a non-native student of English comparing between two types of reading. Then I noticed that the author started the title with ("Aloud Reading" and Silent Reading). I am wondering why he used " Aloud Reading" instead of the more correct " Reading Aloud". Is the position of the adverb " Aloud" here correct?

1 Answer 1


This is a highly unusual way of expressing the idea. In short, the use of aloud in the title is not normal.

It's more natural to think of a word that precedes reading to be an adjective and a word that follows reading to be an adverb. In other words, depending on its position in the phrase, reading is either a noun or a verb.

It makes more sense if you expand the phrases into actual sentences.

Noun and adjective:

It was a reading.

✔ It was a silent reading.
✘ It was an aloud reading.

Here, reading is an event. It uses an article in front of it and is used as a noun. The modifying words in front of reading are adjectives.

However, we simply don't say an aloud reading. It's meaning is understood, but we don't express it that way.

More natural would be something like:

✔ It was a vocal reading.

Although this sounds a bit odd on its own, it makes sense when contrasted with a silent reading.

Verb and adverb:

I was reading.

✔ I was reading silently.
✔ I was reading aloud.

Here, reading is an actual verb that doesn't use an article in front of it. The modifying words that follow it are adverbs.

Note, too, that while adverbs normally take an -ly form, in this particular case, we have the flat adverb aloud that is acceptable. There is no such adverb as aloudly. (There is loudly, but that would be contrasted with quietly, which doesn't quite apply in this case.)

In the title of the paper, the complete sentences have been pared down to just phrases, but one of them is used in a way that is unnatural.

To maintain parallelism, and to use commonly acceptable phrases, it should really have been titled as one of the following:

Vocal Reading and Silent Reading
Reading Aloud and Reading Silently

  • I really appreciate your reply.
    – Mido Mido
    Oct 27, 2018 at 19:01

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