Hear vs Listen - Common English Errors

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In this lesson we will learn how to use ‘hear’ and ‘listen.’


Mark: The words hear and listen both refer to being aware of sounds.

Linda: You’re right Mark. ‘To hear’ refers to an ability. ‘To listen’ means you are paying attention to a sound or to what someone is saying.

Mark: Listening means trying to understand what you hear.

Linda: You may hear a noise without trying to identify it. But to understand, you must listen to it.

Mark: Yes Linda. Would you give some examples to help us understand better?

Linda: Yes, for sure. Here’s one: As soon as the audience hears the bell, they prepare themselves to listen to the lecture.

Mark: In this example audience hears the bell and then listens to the lecture to understand it.

Linda: Here is another example: Hearing her child cry, the mother stopped listening to the news.

Mark: Thank you Linda. Let’s listen to some conversations to understand better.

Conversation: #1

Sam: Hello Kate, here’s the address you should come to.

Kate: Hello! Is this Sam? I cannot hear you very well. Would you speak a little louder?

Sam: Listen carefully. You should come to Park Avenue, 17, in Holmes Villa.

Kate: Gotcha! Is that Park Avenue 17, Holmes Villa?

Sam: Right! You should arrive before 7 P.M. if you want to listen to Professor King’s presentation.

Kate: I need to listen to it completely. It’s the topic of my paper. I’ll be on time. Thank you, Sam.

Conversation: #2

Sam: I’ve heard that lecture before, it’s very inspirational.

Kate: Yes, everybody was listening to it carefully.

Sam: That’s right. It was very interesting.

Kate: It was good to hear the whole crowd laughing out loud, listening to his jokes.

Sam: You are right Kate. Should we attend these lectures every week?

Kate: Yes, Sam. Let’s come next week too.

Conversation: #3

Sam: Hey Linda, do you like to listen to music?

Kate: Yes, I do, but I never use headphones while driving.

Sam: While driving if you use headphones or earphones and listen to loud music, you won’t hear other sounds.

Kate: Yes. It also distracts us, which could be dangerous.

Sam: That’s right Linda. I heard that many accidents happen because of that.

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Yilin Michel OUEDRAOGO
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