English Vocabulary: hear vs Listen

English Vocabulary: hear vs listen

English Vocabulary: hear vs listen. These two verbs get mixed up all the time. So, let’s look at how they are different and how they are similar.


  • Irregular, Transitive and Intransitive verb
  • Think of ‘hear’ as an event.
    • I heard what the Prime Minister said yesterday. The focus is on the event of the Prime Minister, not that I heard it.
  • You receive a sound / you are conscious of a sound
    • Did you hear that? I think someone is at the door.
  • You understand a piece of information
    • He heard they are getting a divorce.


  • Regular, transitive verb
  • Usually followed by ‘to’
  • Think of listen to as an action.
  • He never listens to me when I’m speaking. It’s so annoying. (The focus is on the action of listening.)
  • To give your attention to someone or something.
    • I listened to the whole album and I love it.


Sometimes we can use both hear or listen in a sentence. However, the meaning changes a bit.

  • Remember, we use ‘hear’ to focus on the activity and ‘listen’ to focus on the action.
    • I love hearing the rain hitting the window. (the focus is on the rain hitting the window)
    • I love listening to the rain hitting the window. (the focus is on listening)

English Vocabulary

Now that you have read about English Vocabulary: hear vs listen, take a look at our other vocabulary based posts:
Vocab Rehab: Raise, Rise, Arise
Vocab Rehab: Backlash

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