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HEAR and LISTEN: Difference between Hear vs Listen in English

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Learn the difference between Hear and Listen in English with picture and examples.

Difference between Hear and Listen

HEAR means that sounds come into your ears whether you want it or not, while LISTEN means that you consciously pay attention to what you hear.

How to Use HEAR

HEAR (no effort)  – A sound/ noise comes into your ear without you making an effort.

  1. You do not make conscious decision to hear.
  2. You physically experience the sense of sound.
  3. Sometimes the sound you hear is sudden or unexpected like a noise, an alarm or an explosion.


  • Can you hear me?
  • Did you hear the thunder last night?
  • I didn’t hear what you said. Sorry
  • Could you speak louder, please? I couldn’t hear anything.
  • Can you hear the birds singing in the garden?
  • We heard a terrible noise when the cars crashed in front of our house.

How to Use LISTEN

LISTEN (no effort) – When you pay attention and try to listen to sounds

  1. You make decision to listen
  2. You deliberately pay attention to the sound.
  3. Listen + to + object (something)


  • Are you listening to the radio last night?
  • My sister loves listening to music.
  • I tried to listen but I couldn’t hear anything.
  • Listen!  some fine jazz music is played in the neighbor’s flat.
  • Everybody listened carefully to the old man’s story.
  • You’ll get in trouble if you don’t listen to your teacher.


You can hear somebody talking but you need to listen to them to understand what they are saying.

Difference between Hear and Listen | Picture

Difference between HEAR and LISTEN