Hear and Listen

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“Do you hear that noise? I think the neighbors got a new dog.”

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“You should listen to my advice, I’ve done this before.”

Hear” and “Listen” are two very similar words that have to do with our auditory senses.


Hear” is very basic, it just means to notice a sound. It is very passive.

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“My father is hard of hearing.” (he can’t notice sounds well)


Listen” could be defined as Hear and understand/process”. It is an active skill. You are paying attention.

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“I had to listen to my professor lecture for two hours.”

The student hears the professor and uses his brain to try to understand the information.


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“I love listening to music.”

You not only notice a sound, you pay attention and enjoy it.
This is very different from:

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“I hear music”

which means you notice that there is music, as a sound, but you are not trying to process and enjoy it.


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“Are you listening to me?”

Might be something a parent or friend asks if it looks like you’re not paying attention.

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“Can you hear me?”

would be something said over a bad phone connection. You are asking if their ears can notice the sound of your voice.

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