We’re starting a new blog post series that compiles common mistakes and confusing phrases in the English language. The very first post of the series will go over the following groups of words: Listen / Hear and See / Look / Watch.
1. Listen / Hear
English learners frequently confuse the verbs Listen and Hear. In many cases, these verbs are used interchangeably, and this leads to misuse. Here are two fundamental differences in terms of their usage:
The verb Listen is used to describe a continuous action, whereas the verb Hear refers to a single moment in time.
While I was listening to the radio, I heard that there was a hurricane approaching Florida. (Listening to the radio = a continuous action / heard that = a single moment during a continuous action)
‘Listen’ is generally used for intentional actions, while ‘Hear’ can be used for situations that happen accidentally or randomly.
After I heard my parents yelling at each other, I listened carefully to understand what was going on. (Heard my parents = an unintentional action / listened carefully = an intentional action)
*** The verb ‘Listen’ is always followed by ‘to’ whereas the verb ‘hear’ is not.
I am listening to the radio.
I can’t hear you. Could you speak more loudly?
2. See / Look / Watch
‘See’, ‘Look’ and ‘Watch’ are all used for eye-related actions. Nevertheless, there are some minor differences in terms of their usage.
The verb Look indicates directing your attention to something. Its usage shows an intentional action, and it is generally followed by ‘at’. (Look+at+noun)
Look at the dog – it’s so cute!
The verb See is used for perceiving something with your eyes, yet it is not an intentional action.
I saw a friend from high school while shopping at the mall.
The verb Watch is used for situations where you keep your eyes on something/someplace intentionally and for a long time. It is generally used in the case of moving objects and situations.
I’m watching TV.
I watched the latest Friends episode last night.
This concludes the first post of our series, but we’ll have more of these coming soon on how to learn grammar and improve your English. Stay tuned!
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Practical and very useful