Hear and Listen

The difference between the verbs Hear and Listen.

Hear is an involuntary action, whilst Listen is a voluntary action…

The easiest way to remember this basic difference is that:

‘Hear’ is something you do automatically because you have ears. You ‘hear’ something simply because it is making a noise. (Unless you are deaf, that is).

‘Listen’ is something you decide to do when you need to hear something specific. You ‘listen’ TO something because you want to. (Remember to always use TO after ‘listen’)

Example: Can you hear someone with a quiet voice?   Only if I listen to them carefully.

Try making sentences using Hear and Listen.

Write down everything that you can hear without trying: the birds, the wind, the traffic, children playing in the street, the sound of a clock ticking, etc.

Then write a list of the things that you like to listen to: music on the radio, the television, people talking to you, your language lessons, etc.

Look at the Hear and Listen examples that follow:

HEAR
In the country, you can hear birds singing in the early morning.
You can hear a clock ticking during the night.
Can you speak a little louder please, I can’t hear you very well.
LISTEN
If you stop talking and listen TO me, you will understand what I am saying.
If you make an effort TO listen, then you can hear the wind in the trees.
I like TO listen to the sound of music playing on the radio.

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