Learn how to use the easily confused English words "Hear & Listen"

Hear & Listen

In English we use the words hear and listen often. The meanings are similar but we use them differently and they can be easy to confuse. Use this blog to help you understand the differences with some examples 🙂

Definitions from:

“I can hear the people talking at the table next to me.”



to be aware of sounds with your earsI can’t hear very well.hear something/somebody She heard footsteps behind her.I couldn’t hear anything.hear somebody/something doing something He could hear a dog barking.hear somebody/something do something Did you hear him go out?I heard a car drive off.hear what… Didn’t you hear what I said?somebody/something is heard to do something She has been heard to make threats to her former lover.

“I was listening to the speaker at the meeting.”



 to pay attention to somebody/something that you can hearListen! What’s that noise? Can you hear it?Sorry, I wasn’t really listening.He had been listening at the door.listen to somebody/something to listen to musicI listened carefully to her story.You haven’t been listening to a word I’ve said!
 You cannot ‘listen something’ (without ‘to’):
I’m fond of listening to classical music. I’m fond of listening classical music.

*We report information that we learned by saying “I heard…”
“I heard Richard got a promotion.”

*We use listen to to mean pay attention to something or someone. (See definition above)
“I listen to English news on the train.”
“Don’t listen to James, he’s a liar.”

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