What’s the difference: Hear / Listen

HEARperceive a soundLISTENpay attention to sound

This is a common mistake among students. The verbs listen and hear involve perceiving a sound. Both words are similar with one subtle difference.

Hear means to perceive or become aware of a sound.

  • I hear noise.
  • I hear police sirens.
  • I hear rumors and gossip at work.

Listen means to pay attention to what you hear.

  • I listen to music.
  • I listen to my clients.
  • I listen to my wife.
Student Mistakes
  • Can you listen me?  (wrong, incorrect)
  • Can you hear me?  (right, correct)
  • I can't listen you.
  • I can't hear you.
  • I listen you.
  • I can hear you.
  • I like to listen music.
  • I like to listen to music.

Common Questions

  • Can you hear me?
  • Did you hear that?
  • What did you hear?
  • Are you listening to me?
  • What do you like listening to?
  • Did you hear the news?
  • Who did you hear that from?
  • Did you hear the new Star Wars movie came out?

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