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Difference Between Listen and Hear

Listen vs Hear

Listen and Hear are two words that are often confused as far as their meanings are concerned. 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. Observe the two sentences:

1. Suddenly I heard a loud noise.

2. 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.

Observe the two sentences:

1. Listen to my words carefully.

2. I did not listen to what he was saying.

In both 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. Interestingly we use the verb ‘hear’ when we talk about musical performances as in the sentences:

1. I heard to her music live.

2. I heard him play the guitar.

In both the sentences 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 ‘I can hear him coming up the stairs’. These are the differences between the two verbs, namely, hear and listen.


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