What's the Difference Between “Hear” and “Listen”?

To “hear” means to receive sounds through our ears (without effort) while to “listen” means to make an effort to hear something. Hearing is involuntary and mechanical (it just happens); listening  is voluntary (a choice) and requires skill, practice and commitment. Check out how hear and listen are used correctly:

  • A: Did you hear what Vanessa told Feona?
  • B: Not a word. I was too far from them to hear anything.
  • A: Can you hear me?
  • B: Please turn up your microphone. I can’t hear you from here.
  • A: Listen to Cecille. She has a point.
  • B: I won’t listen to her lies anymore.
  • When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.

Listen is often followed by the preposition to; hear is never followed by this preposition. Examine more examples:

  • A: Did you hear that? Cely is leaving Mar.
  • B: Ohh.. That’s horrible. Do you often listen to their conversations?
  • A: Did you hear them play Celine’s new song on 99.9?
  • B: No. I don’t listen to radio programs.
Designed by Neil Yamit