Which of these sentences is correct? Why?

You must hear to this song.
You must listen to this song.
Have you heard to this song?
Have you listened to this song?

  • 3
    "Hear" should not be followed by "to". The correct versions would be "You must hear this song" and "Have you heard this song?"
    – Justin
    Feb 16 '11 at 18:36

Either is correct, but they have a slightly different emphasis in their meaning. Hear is generally regarded as a passive activity, something that happens whether one wants it to or not. Listen, on the other hand, is regarded as an active activity requiring the participation of the user.

I might say the following:

You have got to hear this song.

If the person heard the song, and was unimpressed, I might then reply:

Well, you must not have listened very closely.


As reported in another recent question, listen is an intransitive verb and does not take a direct object; you must use a prepositional phrase to specify the thing being perceived. Hear, on the other hand, is transitive and can take an object, so you can say:

You must hear this song.
Have you heard this song?
You must listen to this song.
Have you listened to this song?


In the sentences you reported, you can use either hear or listen.

Generally speaking, listen and hear have similar meaning; two of the meanings of hear are listen, pay attention.

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

In specific contexts, listen is used instead of hear; for example, when a sentence uses the imperative mood, listen is used.

Sit and listen to the radio.
Listen me when I am talking to you!

  • 1
    No, 50% of them are incorrect. Any native English speaker would pick up on this.
    – ash
    Feb 16 '11 at 19:23
  • I will rephrase the answer to report what I exactly mean.
    – apaderno
    Feb 16 '11 at 19:29

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