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Listening vs. Hearing: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Listening is actively engaging and understanding sounds, while hearing is the passive physiological process of perceiving sounds.
Listening vs. Hearing

Key Differences

Listening is an active process where attention is paid to sounds; it requires cognitive effort and understanding. Hearing, on the other hand, is a passive and automatic sensory process, simply perceiving sounds without necessarily understanding them.
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Dec 23, 2023
Listening involves interpreting and making sense of what is heard, focusing on the meaning behind words. Hearing is merely the reception of sound waves through the ear and the brain's recognition of these waves as sound.
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Dec 23, 2023
While listening, one often responds or reacts to the information received, showing engagement with the speaker. Hearing does not inherently include a response or an indication of comprehension.
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Effective listening requires certain skills, such as paying attention, understanding context, and empathy. In contrast, hearing is a natural ability unless impaired by physical factors.
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Dec 23, 2023
Listening can be developed and improved as a skill, particularly in communication and learning. Hearing, while it can be enhanced with devices in case of impairment, largely remains a constant physiological capability.
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Dec 23, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Nature

Active process
Passive process
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Requirement

Attention and understanding
Functional auditory system
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Skill

Can be improved with practice
Natural ability
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Response

Involves reacting or replying
Does not require a response
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Focus

On meaning and context
On sounds
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Listening and Hearing Definitions

Listening

Listening is consciously processing auditory information.
She was listening intently to her teacher's lecture.
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Dec 14, 2023

Hearing

Hearing is the ability to perceive sound by detecting vibrations.
Despite the noise, he was hearing the alarm clearly.
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Listening

Listening involves understanding and interpreting sounds.
During the meeting, she was listening for key points.
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Hearing

Hearing is the physiological process involving the ears and brain.
His hearing test showed excellent auditory capabilities.
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Listening

Listening is giving attention to sound or action.
Listening to the music, he could feel its emotions.
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Hearing

Hearing is the passive act of noticing sounds.
He was hearing the birds chirp outside his window.
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Listening

To make an effort to hear something
Listen to the radio.
Listen for the bell that ends class.
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Dec 13, 2023

Hearing

Hearing is the sensory process of receiving sound waves.
Her hearing was sharp enough to catch the faint whisper.
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Listening

To pay attention; heed
“She encouraged me to listen carefully to what country people called mother wit” (Maya Angelou).
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Hearing

The sense by which sound is perceived; the capacity to hear.
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Listening

An act of listening
Would you like to give the CD a listen before buying it?.
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Hearing

Range of audibility; earshot.
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Listening

Of something or someone that listens.
Any listening person can tell she's lying.
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Hearing

An opportunity to be heard.
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Listening

Of something that is used in order to hear or to improve the ability to hear.
He could hear better when he used his listening device.
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Hearing

A legal proceeding in which evidence is taken and arguments are given as the basis for a decision to be issued, either on some preliminary matter or on the merits of the case.
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Listening

Of an action that is performed with caution and attention to sounds.
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Hearing

A session, as of an investigatory committee or a grand jury, at which testimony is taken from witnesses.
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Listening

Present participle of listen
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Hearing

Able to hear
A deaf child born to hearing parents.
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Listening

Action of the verb listening
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Hearing

Able to hear, as opposed to deaf.
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Listening

An educational exercise involving listening
OK, students, today we're going to do a couple of listenings about the environment, then a reading about crime.
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Dec 13, 2023

Hearing

(uncountable) The sense used to perceive sound.
My hearing isn't what it used to be, but I still heard that noise.
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Listening

Skill or ability of perceiving spoken language.
You can improve your listening well by watching English-language films.
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Hearing

(countable) The act by which something is heard.
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Listening

The act of hearing attentively.
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Hearing

(uncountable) A proceeding at which discussions are heard.
There will be a public hearing to discuss the new traffic light.
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Dec 13, 2023

Listening

The act of hearing attentively;
You can learn a lot by just listening
They make good music--you should give them a hearing
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Hearing

A legal procedure done before a judge, without a jury, as with an evidentiary hearing.
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Listening

Attending to or alert for sound;
Be wary of listening ears
Government-maintained listening posts
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Hearing

A scolding.
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Listening

Listening is actively engaging in what is being said.
He was listening to his friend's story with empathy.
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Dec 14, 2023

Hearing

Present participle of hear
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Listening

Listening is receiving and responding to verbal communication.
She was listening to the customer's complaints carefully.
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Hearing

The act or power of perceiving sound; perception of sound; the faculty or sense by which sound is perceived; as, my hearing is good.
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear.
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Dec 13, 2023

Hearing

Attention to what is delivered; opportunity to be heard; audience; as, I could not obtain a hearing.
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Hearing

A listening to facts and evidence, for the sake of adjudication; a session of a court for considering proofs and determining issues.
His last offenses to usShall have judicious hearing.
Another hearing before some other court.
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Hearing

Extent within which sound may be heard; sound; earshot.
They laid him by the pleasant shore,And in the hearing of the wave.
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Dec 13, 2023

Hearing

(law) a proceeding (usually by a court) where evidence is taken for the purpose of determining an issue of fact and reaching a decision based on that evidence
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Dec 13, 2023

Hearing

An opportunity to state your case and be heard;
They condemned him without a hearing
He saw that he had lost his audience
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Dec 13, 2023

Hearing

The range within which a voice can be heard;
The children were told to stay within earshot
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Dec 13, 2023

Hearing

The act of hearing attentively;
You can learn a lot by just listening
They make good music--you should give them a hearing
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Dec 13, 2023

Hearing

A session (of a committee or grand jury) in which witnesses are called and testimony is taken;
The investigative committee will hold hearings in Chicago
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Hearing

The ability to hear; the auditory faculty;
His hearing was impaired
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Hearing

Able to perceive sound
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Hearing

Hearing is an automatic response to sound stimuli.
She was hearing the thunder, but not listening to it.
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Dec 14, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is listening?

Listening is actively processing and understanding sounds or speech.
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Dec 23, 2023

What is hearing?

Hearing is the physiological ability to perceive sound.
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Dec 23, 2023

Does listening require focus?

Yes, listening requires focus and concentration.
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Can hearing be lost?

Yes, hearing can be impaired or lost due to various factors.
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Is hearing a conscious process?

No, hearing is not necessarily a conscious process.
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Dec 23, 2023

Can listening affect relationships?

Yes, good listening skills can significantly improve relationships.
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Is hearing the same for everyone?

No, hearing abilities can vary greatly among individuals.
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How does listening impact learning?

Effective listening enhances understanding and retention in learning.
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Dec 23, 2023

Can listening be improved?

Yes, listening can be improved with practice and attention.
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Is hearing always voluntary?

No, hearing is an involuntary, automatic sensory process.
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Dec 23, 2023

Can someone hear without listening?

Yes, it's possible to hear sounds without actively listening.
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Dec 23, 2023

Is listening important in communication?

Yes, listening is crucial for effective communication.
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Does age affect hearing?

Yes, hearing often deteriorates with age.
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Dec 23, 2023

Is hearing loss reversible?

Some types of hearing loss are reversible, but many are not.
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Dec 23, 2023

Does listening involve understanding?

Yes, listening involves understanding and interpreting what is heard.
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Dec 23, 2023

Is listening important in a professional setting?

Absolutely, listening is key in professional communication.
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Dec 23, 2023

Are there techniques to improve listening?

Yes, techniques like active listening can improve listening skills.
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Dec 23, 2023

Can loud noises damage hearing?

Yes, prolonged exposure to loud noises can damage hearing.
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Dec 23, 2023

Can hearing be enhanced?

Hearing can be enhanced with aids like hearing aids.
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Is listening more than just hearing words?

Yes, listening involves understanding the context and emotions.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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