Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today, in #15 of our countdown of the Top 15 Fixes in English series, we’ll be discussing the difference between listen and hear, and how to think about them so you don’t mix them up!

Listen and hear seem to mean the same thing.

They can be used interchangeably and still make sense, but their meanings are slightly different.

When you understand the difference between these similar words, you can push your English to the next level.

You’ll be able to get a higher score on exams such as TOEFL or IELTS and you’ll be able to use your English at work.

Hear is more about your senses.  It’s passive and suggests your ears are working.  You hear sounds even if you aren’t paying attention to them.

Listen is more of an action.  You are actively hearing, with intention.  You are focused and trying to understand or give thought when you are listening.

Here are some examples:

  • “Do you like to listen to music?”
  • “Did you just hear that fire truck?”
  • “Is he still listening to the radio?”

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Are there any sounds you don’t like to hear?

Tell us below in the comments section!

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