hear and listen (to)

1. Hear is the ordinary word to say that something ‘comes to our ears’

  • Suddenly I heard a strange noise
  • Can you hear me?
  • Did you hear the Queen’s speech yesterday?

Hear is not used in progressive tenses. When we want to say that we hear something at the moment of speaking, we often use can hear.

  • I can hear somebody coming. (not I am hearing)

2. We use listen (to) to talk about concentrating, paying attention, trying to hear as well as possible.


  • I heard them talking in the next room, but I didn’t really listen to what they were saying.
  • Listen carefully please’ ‘Could you speak a bit louder? I can’t hear you very well’

We use listen when there is no object, and listen to before an object.


  • Listen! (Not Listen to)
  • Listen to me! (Not Listen me)