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Commonly Confused Words: Verbal/Oral/Written

Are oral and written contracts both considered verbal contracts? If so, what’s the difference?

Oral (adjective):

  • The adjective oral means “relating to speech or spoken words”: “They made an oral agreement to sell the farm.”

Written (adjective):

  • The adjective written means “relating to communications via words on a tangible medium or in digital format”: “They signed the written agreement to sell the farm.”

Verbal (adjective):

  • The adjective verbal means “consisting of words.” Thus, both oral and written contracts are verbal contracts.
Rule: Avoid using “verbalto refer to an oral contract, agreement, or promise. The word creates ambiguity. Instead, use oral or written.