Allowed or Aloud: What’s the Difference?

English has plenty of homophones, but two of the most easily confused homophones are aloud and allowed. These two words give even experienced writers trouble.

If you make this mistake in a text message or a post on social media, the stakes may be fairly low, depending on your circle of friends. The same mistake in an academic essay or professional correspondence, however, can be seriously detrimental to your credibility as a writer.

The good news is that by informing yourself of the differences between aloud and allowed, you are already taking steps to improve your writing.

What is the Difference Between Allowed and Aloud?

In this article, I will compare allowed vs. aloud. I will use each of these words in a sentence, so that you can see them in the proper context.

I will also show you a helpful mnemonic that you can use to know when to use allowed or aloud in your own writing.

When to Use Allowed

allowed versus aloudWhat does allowed mean? Allowed can be an adjective or a verb.

As an adjective, allowed is a synonym of permitted or sanctioned.

As a verb, allowed is the past tense of the verb allow, which means permit, sanction, or concede.

Here are some examples,

  • Bernadette argued that nuclear proliferation would eventually lead to nuclear war, and Richard allowed that it was within the realm of possibility.
  • The attorney screamed, “Objection, your honor! This line of questioning is a blatant attack on the character of the witness, and cannot possibly lead to information relevant to this case!” The judge, however, allowed it.
  • You are allowed one carry-on item and one small personal bag or backpack on domestic flights.
  • Utah’s Republican congressional delegation had been working on compromise legislation that would have allowed the land to be developed for energy and other uses. –The Wall Street Journal

When to Use Aloud

Define aloud and define allowedWhat does aloud mean? Aloud is an adverb, in which it describes speaking or reading in full voice. Aloud is an antonym of the adverbs silently and quietly.

Here are some examples,

  • Early elementary screenings for deficits in reading fluency usually involve reading aloud from a pre-selected passage for one minute.
  • The Senator from Kentucky voiced his objections aloud, and articulated them in no uncertain terms.
  • It is only when I speak my thoughts aloud that I get myself into trouble.
  • This nonprofit organization is powered by pediatricians who share a common goal — to make sure that all parents and caregivers understand the importance of reading aloud, so that all children are given a solid foundation for success. –The Washington Post

See here for a discussion on aloud vs. out loud.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Definition of aloud definition and definition of allowed definitionHere is a helpful trick to remember aloud vs. allowed.

Despite being homophones, allowed and aloud are actually different parts of speech and cannot be freely interchanged.

  • Allowed is either a verb or an adjective.
  • Aloud is an adverb.

If you ever have trouble remembering which of these words is which, remember that the suffix –ed at the end of allowed denotes a past tense verb. You can use allowed’s construction as a clue to help you remember that it is a verb.

Additionally, aloud contains the word loud, which can serve to indicate that is refers to sound, not permission.

Summary

Is it aloud or allowed? Aloud and allowed are homophones, but they are different parts of speech.

Aloud is an adverb that means spoken or read in full voice. Allowed can be either an adjective, where it means permitted or sanctioned, or the past tense of the verb allow, which means to permit something or to concede a point.

Since allowed ends with the suffix –ed, you can always remember to use it as a past tense verb instead of aloud.

In conclusion, aloud is an adverb. Allowed is sometimes a verb and sometimes an adjective.