TESOL/Using hear and listen
The words hear and listen both mean that we perceive something with our ears, but the meanings differ.
Usage[edit | edit source]
Concentration[edit | edit source]
We use listen when we are concentrating harder on a sound. Hear may happen by accident, but listen is never an accident.
- I thought I heard someone say my name.
I thought I listened to someone say my name.
- Suddenly I heard a dog bark.
Suddenly I listened to a dog bark.
- If you hear my cell phone ring, let me know.
If you listen to my cell phone right, let me know.
Mechanics[edit | edit source]
Progressive[edit | edit source]
Hear is used as a progressive less often than most verbs. Instead, "can hear" is used.
- I can hear the rain fall.
I am hearing the rain fall.
- Can you hear him breathing?
Are you hearing him breathing?
- I could hear man shouting when the car crashed.
I was hearing a man shouting when the car crashed.
"Hearing" may also be an infinitive, which is spelled the same way as a progressive. In that case, it's fine.
- I hate hearing his excuses.
- Hearing the train come makes me excited.
- Hearing you say that makes me happy.
Listen and listen to[edit | edit source]
Listen is used without "to" if there is no object. If there is an object, we have to use listen to.
- You should listen to your parents.
You should listen your parents.
Quiz[edit | edit source]