There are two differences between listen and hear:
Hearing is the physical activity of sound falling on the ears and the biological processes involved in its perception. ‘Listening’ is the ability to pay attention to what the sounds mean and understand it
Listen is often a prolonged action, but hear is just one moment in time:
- While I was listening to the news, I heard that the Chibok girls would be released soon.
(“listening to news” = continuous action, “heard that” = one specific moment)
Listen is often intentional, but hear is often unintentional.
- After I heard a loud noise downstairs, I listened carefully to see if a robber had entered the house.
(“heard a loud noise” = without trying; “listened carefully” = trying)
Listen is always followed by to. Don’t use “to” after hear.
- I’m listening to a podcast.
- I can’t hear the TV. Turn the volume up.