Word Confusion: Hear vs Here with a Bit of a Listen

Posted July 15, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 18 February 2018

It’s rare to run across a word confusion between hear and here. Almost as rare as running across a confused hear and listen. Yet they do exist.

The hear-here difference is easy enough to differentiate; the hear-listen must take context into account. To hear is, generally, a passive act while to listen is to actively pursue the hearing of…things.

And just so you know, hear and here are heterograhs.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Hear Listen Here
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

A single hearing aid on black cloth.

“Analog Hearing Aids” is Udo Schröter’s own work under the GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hearing aids help one hear.


“Stethoscope” was originally uploaded Luna04 at French Wikipedia (Transferred from fr.wikipedia to Commons) and is under the GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons.

A stethoscope listens to your heart or lungs.

The City of Victoria in Canada covered a utility box with a map showing your location

“You are Here – Street Sign” by Joe Goldberg from Seattle, WA, USA, is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

Part of Grammar:
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: hears
Past tense or past participle: heard
Gerund or Present participle: hearing

Noun, singular;
Verb, intransitive

Plural for the noun: listen
Third person present verb: listens
Past tense or past participle: listened
Gerund or Present participle: listening

Adjective; Adverb; Exclamation; Noun
Plural for the noun: here
Verb, intransitive:
Perceive with the ear the sound made by (someone or something)

  • [Have heard of] Be aware of
  • Know of the existence of
  • [Hear from] Be contacted by (someone), especially by letter or telephone
  • [Will/would not hear of] Will or would not allow or agree to

Verb, transitive:
Perceive with the ear the sound made by someone or something

  • Be told or informed of
  • Listen or pay attention to
  • [Hear someone out] Listen to all that someone has to say
  • [Law] Listen to and judge (a case or plaintiff)
  • Listen to and grant (a prayer)
Make an effort to hear something

An act of listening to something

Verb, intransitive:
Give one’s attention to sound

  • Take notice of and act on what someone says
  • Respond to advice or a request
  • Make an effort to hear something
  • Be alert and ready to hear something

Take heed

Verb, transitive:
[Archaic] To give ear to

  • Hear
Used for emphasis, especially after a noun modified by a demonstrative adjective

In, at, or to this place or position

  • Used when pointing or gesturing to indicate the place in mind
  • Used to draw attention to someone or something that has just arrived
  • [With infinitive] Used to indicate one’s role in a particular situation
  • Used to refer to existence in the world in general

[Usually here is/are] Used when introducing something or someone

  • Used when giving something to someone

Used when indicating a time, point, or situation that has arrived or is happening

[Literary] Hither

Now, at this moment, at this point, at this point in time, at this juncture, at this stage

Used to attract someone’s attention

Indicating one’s presence in a roll call

This place

This world

  • This life
  • The present
Verb, intransitive:
He did not hear very well.

I was shocked to hear of her death.

Nobody had ever heard of my college.

If you would like to join the committee, we would love to hear from you.

I won’t hear of such idiocy.

Verb, transitive:
Behind her she could hear men’s voices.

She had never been heard to complain.

Have you heard the news?

They heard that I had moved.

She just doesn’t hear what I’m telling her.

Joseph gravely heard them out but never offered advice.

It was an all-woman jury heard the case.

Our Heavenly Father has heard our prayers.

Have a listen to this!

Would you like to give it a listen before you decide?

Verb, intransitive:
Evidently he was not listening.

I told her and over and again, but she wouldn’t listen.

They listened for sounds in the night.

Listen, I’ve got this idea.

Listen to your teachers, John.

Listen, this is important.

Listen to the voters.

Verb, transitive:
This music is listened to all over the country.

This package here.

This here man, what’d ya say his name was?

She lives here.

Are you here now?

I like to eat lunch here.

This here is the best chance you’ll ever have.

It’s our obsession with the here and now that worries me.

The chocolates spilled out of the box and were scattered here and there.

Oh man, here we go again.

Oh, please…that’s neither here nor there.

They have lived here most of their lives.

Come here and let me look at them.

I’m getting out of here.

It’s too hot in here.

Sign here.

I have here a letter from the chief of police.

Here’s my brother.

We’re not here to mess around.

Here’s the money I promised you.

Here’s to your health!

Here! He’s over here!

Here, let me hold it.

It’s only a short distance from here.

The here and the hereafter are equal mysteries to all people.

Adjective: half-heard, hearable
Noun: hearer
Verb, transitive: outhear, outheard, outhearing, rehear, reheard, rehearing
Adjective: listenable, more listenable, most listenable, unlistenable, unlistening
Noun: listenability, listener, listenership, listening post, listening station
Verb: list [archaic], relisten
Phrasal Verb
hear about something
hear from somebody
hear of something
hear somebody out
listen for
listen in
listen up
History of the Word:
Old English of Germanic origin and related to Dutch hooren and German hören From the Old English of Germanic origin, hlysnan meaning pay attention to

[Noun] 1738
Old English hēr is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch and German hier.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits

Victor VI Phonograph with Speartip Horn is AlejandroLinaresGarcia’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license and Ear by David Benbennick under the GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, or CC BY-SA 2.0 license are both via Wikimedia Commons.

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