Difference Between Listen and Hear

Listen vs Hear
 

The confusion people experience in understanding when to use listen and hear is due to the fact that the difference between listen and hear is very slim. First of all, it should be mentioned that both listen and hear are verbs. Sometimes listen is used as a noun to indicate the act of listening. The verb listen has its origins in the Old English word hlysnan. In the same manner, the verb hear has its origins in the Old English words hīeran, hēran. Listen and hear are used in phrases that are used in the English language. For example, listen in, hear! hear! hear say, etc.

What does Hear mean?

We use the verb hear when we just want to say that sounds come to our ears. Unlike the word listen, the word hear is not suggestive of the actions of concentration and attention. Observe the two sentences given below:

Suddenly I heard a loud noise.

Can you hear me?

In both the sentences mentioned above, you can find that the word hear is used to suggest ‘sound’ that comes to the ears. In the first sentence, the sound of a large noise comes to the ears of the speaker. In the second sentence, the speaker is asking someone whether that person can hear the speaker’s voice. Interestingly, we use the verb hear when we talk about musical performances as in the sentences:

I heard her music live.

I heard him play the guitar.

In both the sentences given above, you can find that the word hear is used in connection with music. The word hear is sometimes used in a figurative sense as in the sentence given below.

I can hear him coming up the stairs.

What does Listen mean?

On the other hand, the word listen is used to suggest that we are concentrating, paying attention or trying to hear as well as possible. This is the main difference between the two verbs hear and listen. Thus, it is understood that the word listen has the suggested meanings of ‘attention’ and ‘concentration’. Observe the two sentences given below:

Listen to my words carefully.

I did not listen to what he was saying.

In both of the sentences given above, you can see that the word listen is used suggestive of the meaning ‘concentration’ as the sentences would mean ‘concentrate on what I am saying’ and ‘I did not concentrate on what he was saying’ respectively. This is the main difference between the two words, listen and hear.

Difference Between Listen and Hear

What is the difference between Listen and Hear?

• We use the verb hear when we just want to say that sounds come to our ears. On the other hand, the word listen is used to suggest that we are concentrating, paying attention or trying to hear as well as possible. This is the main difference between the two verbs hear and listen.

• Thus, it is understood that the word listen has the suggested meanings of ‘attention’ and ‘concentration’.

• On the other hand, the word hear is not suggestive of the actions of concentration and attention.

• We use the verb hear when we talk about musical performances.

• The word hear is sometimes used in a figurative sense.

These are the differences between the two verbs, namely, hear and listen.