What is the difference between ‘hear’ and ‘listen’?

Is there a difference between ‘hear’ and ‘listen’ in Standard English?


To hear is to physically experience the sense of sound. As long as one’s ear and brain are capable of processing sound waves, one can hear.

To listen is to deliberately apply the ability to hear. One who listens is thinking about what is heard, what it means, how to respond, and whether to continue to listen/pay attention.

Imagine three people seated together, with two of them speaking to one another. The third, temporarily not involved in the conversation, pulls out a phone and begins doing stuff with it, ignoring the conversation. This third person can hear the conversation, but is not listening to it.

(A person who is deaf might be said to be listening to a conversation if they can read lips, but it would be more correct to use a term such as engaged or participating.)

Note that there is some overlap in common usage:

“Did you even hear what I told you??”

is a common idiomatic expression of

“Why are you not listening to me?”

Source : Link , Question Author : Mohsin Shaikh , Answer Author : Jonathan Garber

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