I'm from Russia and I've got a problem with writing a letter. Can I use the phrase "glad to hear such news" if I'm not speaking with a person? Isn't it better and more correct to use "glad to know"?

  • 5
    We use such terms metaphorically all the time in writing. "Glad to hear such news" or "Good to see you're doing well" are often employed when no actual hearing or seeing has taken place.
    – Robusto
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 12:09

2 Answers 2


"hear" can mean much more than perceiving by the ear. Definitions include:

  • to perceive (sound) by the ear - "Can you hear that music?"
  • to receive news or information (learn) - "I heard about your accident"
  • to receive communication (letter, telephone call) - "I haven't heard from her lately"
  • to be told by others - "I heard she got married"
  • to be reprimanded - "If you don't do your homework you're going to hear from me.
  • to listen with favour, assent, etc. - "She wouldn't hear of it".
  • etc.

MW and TFD

In 1953, a General Service List of English Words (Oxford University Press) listed "perceiving by the ear" as accounting for 54% of all meanings of "hear". With tremendous technological advance since then (smartphones, text messages, e-mails), I won't be surprised if I hear this number has dropped significantly.

To answer your question, "glad to hear the news", "glad to hear from you" are grammatical and current usage.


While you are correct in saying that hearing relates to face-to-face communication, it is often used idiomatically in written communication.

The phrase is also frequently used in writing to indicate that news has been heard verbally from a third person, not necessarily the person to whom you are writing.

In short, the phrase "glad to hear such news" is not out of place in a letter.

  • 2
    There is also the expression: hear from sb * If you ​hear from someone, you get a ​letter, ​email, or ​phone ​call from that ​person, or that ​person ​tells you something:* dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/hear-from-sb
    – user66974
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 12:08
  • 1
    The OP would do well to look up hear in a good dictionary - it has all sorts of uses e.g. Have you heard anything from Jane lately?, Elephants were unheard of in ancient America, I've never heard of anything so daft, I hear that he's got measles. None of these examples need involve the use of the ears.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 13:13

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