Thursday Tidbits – Hear vs. Listen
Many English learners have trouble knowing when to use hear and when to use listen. Check out the differences between the two verbs below.
To hear is a passive verb and is something that happens automatically. When you hear, it is an unplanned action that only happens because your ears have the physical ability to recognize sounds.
Example: Elena can hear everything her neighbors say in the apartment next to her.
→Elena doesn’t want to hear her neighbors, but does not have the choice.
To listen is a voluntary action that has a specific purpose and requires attention. The person listening is doing so actively.
Examples: Steve was listening to the presentation and taking notes.
→Steve was actively paying attention to the presentation.
Choose the correct option in the following sentences.
- Last night I (heard/listened to) the sirens on Paseo Colon.
- If I can’t go to a soccer game, I like to (hear/listen to) it on the radio.
- Jane and John broke up because neither (heard/listened) when the other spoke.
- Alvin didn’t (hear/listen to) his phone ring because he had his headphones in.
- When I go to the mountains, I shut my eyes and concentrate, just to see what noises I can (hear/listen to).
Answers to last week’s Check Yourself
1. I (am/have/no verb) 13 years old.
2. I (am/have/no verb) a turtle. He (is/has/no verb) 100 years old.
3. I (am/have/no verb) so happy, that you (are/have/no verb) agree with me.
4. I (haven’t/am not/no verb) eaten in hours. I (am/verb/no verb) hungry.
5. I (have/am/no verb) a friend named Sally and she (is/has/no verb) 32 years old.