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How is it correct to use the verbs "hear" and "listen to" when we talk about attending some events such as performances, concerts, public speeches, etc.? Is it possible to say: "Let's go and hear the Royal Orchestra at the Albert Hall this evening."? Or is it correct to say: "Let's go and listen to the Royal Orchestra at the Albert Hall."?

Or: "Let's go and hear the speech of the President." vs. "Let's go and listen to the speech of the President."

In Collins Dictionary it's put that: "2.  verb If you hear something such as a lecture or a piece of music, you listen to it."

What is the criteria of choosing the right verb "hear" or "listen to"? As I understand while attending the performance we're paying attention, focusing on music, enjoying it? More appropriate is "listen to", isn't it?

The matter is about using these verbs talking about attending public occasions - concerts, seminars, speeches, etc. Is it correct to say: "Yesterday we went and heard the concert/speech/etc...." or it's better to say "...listened to....". Or the same in present: "I'd like to hear Mozart concert at Albert Hall tonight".

marked as duplicate by Drew, tchrist word-choice Mar 5 '17 at 14:42

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    Hearing is involuntary, listening is intentional. As in, I heard you talking but I didn't listen to a word. So you'd listen to an orchestra if you chose to go to the performance but you'd hear them playing if you were dragged along by your partner. – Chris M Mar 4 '17 at 20:10
  • @ChrisM It's interesting that the colloquial I hear you means that the speaker understands and so must have been listening. – deadrat Mar 4 '17 at 20:56
  • @deadrat yeah, he's just confirming that he's actually heard ok and taken in the information – Chris M Mar 4 '17 at 21:15
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    You can hear without listening but you can't listen without hearing. – Chris M Mar 4 '17 at 21:23
  • @ChrisM, Interesting, I was about to comment almost the opposite when I saw your comments. I was going to say that "listening" is giving attention to a sound you are in the presence of, and hearing can mean either the conversion of sound into data for your brain, or comprehension (as in "I hear what you're saying"). That's probably an indication that the terms are ambiguous and the meaning is very context sensitive. – fixer1234 Mar 4 '17 at 22:05

"To listen to" is not a verb. The verb is just "to listen". "To" is a preposition that forms a prepositional phrase that modifies "to listen".

To simplify the grammar, there is no reason to use compound verbs.
(1) "Let's listen to the speech ..."
(2) "Let's hear the speech ...".

Why is "listen" always followed by "to" in the command voice?

In my opinion, the differences between "to listen" and "to hear" depends too much on context. It is too hard to generalize.

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