Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Hear or Listen?

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between hear and listen?

To hear means to experience sound. For example:
  • I hear the dogs bark every morning.
To listen means to apply the ability to hear deliberately. For example:
  • Listen to the wind.

Hear or Listen?

The verbs to hear and to listen have similar meanings, but there is a subtle difference between them.

Hear

The verb to hear means to experience sound. In other words, it means to perceive sound through the ears. For example:
  • I heard a noise outside.
  • My dog can't hear very well.

Listen

The verb to listen means to apply the ability to hear deliberately. In other words, it means to pay attention to a sound. To listen is usually followed by to or for. For example:
  • Listen to the drum solo.
  • The dog listens for the car arriving.
  • Do you like to listen to classical music?
Interactive Test