the difference between words: hear and listen to


Last week, I went over the difference between “see”, “look at” and “watch”. Today, I want to go over the difference between “hear” and “look at” which is closely related to the post last week. The word “hear” means that we physically pick up sounds with our ears, but we are not focusing on those sounds. In this way, “hear” is similar to the word “see”. The term “listen to” means that we are focusing on those sounds. In this way, “listen to” is similar to “look at”. Here are some examples:

Didn’t you hear the phone ring? I’ve been trying to call you all day.

Can you hear that? It sounds like a baby crying.

I could hear a strange sound coming from my neighbor’s apartment last night. I wonder what he was doing.

On the weekend, I listened to music. I especially like to listen to old time rock and roll.

You have to listen to this joke! It’s so funny!

The doctor listened to my heartbeat and told me he thinks I have a problem with my heart.

The term “listen to” also has another meaning. It can also mean to pay attention to what someone says to you and to do what they say. For example:

I didn’t listen to my parents when they said I should go to university, and now I really regret that.

If you listen to what Frank has to say, you’ll be very successful at this company. He’s been here for a long time.

Listen to me! If you don’t stop smoking, you’re going to have a lot of health problems in the future!

So, that is how we use these words in English. I hope everyone has a great week!



  1. SAM Said:

    plz tell me the difference between speaking and telling

    • Hi there.

      Sorry for the late response. The word “speak” is the same as “talk” except that it is more formal. So we speak to another person or we speak about a certain topic. We also use speak when talking about languages. Therefore, we speak English, or speak Japanese, etc.

      We use “tell” when we say something directly to someone. For example:

      I told my friend to come at 8:00.
      I told my sister I didn’t want to work today.

      If you want more example on how to use “tell”, you can check my blog entry about the difference between “say” and “tell”.

      Take care.


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