Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings. They are among the most confusing words for English language learners to use in writing.
Hear and here are two such words that serve as the perfect example of a frustrating homophone pair. One means to listen or gain information, and the other means to be in or at a specific location, but which is which?
Let’s review the definitions of each of these words to help you remember their proper use in writing and see them in various examples.
What’s the Difference Between Hear and Here?
As mentioned above, one of these words means to listen, understand, or gain information, while the other deals with location.
But, if you are confused as to how to remember which is which, we have the answer.
Hear is a verb that means to perceive or receive sound, listen, or gain understanding through sound. To help remember this, look at its spelling; ear, the part of your body that allows you to hear, is part of the word.
Here is an adverb that means a location or place you (or somebody) are in, on, or at. As you can see, it is a very different word than hear, so it is very important not to mix them up in your writing lest you confuse your readers.
How to Use Hear
Since the word hear is about sound, you need to relate it to what sounds you perceive when using it in a sentence. It can be used to explain what you are personally listening to or ask if somebody heard or understood what you (or somebody) said.
Using Hear in a Sentence
- Did you hear what the professor said about the exam? Can you explain it to me?
- Have you heard about Kim and Doug’s breakup?
- Hearing information is one thing. Comprehending it is another, so listen closely.
- Did you hear that noise? It sounded like somebody had dropped something heavy!
- We adopted the dog because I had heard he needed a new home.
How to Use Here
The word here deals with location, namely a location you are currently at. You can use the word to describe where you are, or you can also use it to describe a state of being – such as being here, in a certain mental state, or here, back at the same problem.
Using Here in a Sentence
- I wasn’t here when the bus showed up, so I don’t know if it was late or not.
- Will you be here for the holidays this year?
- Can you meet me here in five minutes?
- I was here before anyone else.
- Here we go again. Can anyone explain to me why I have to repeat the directions?
- So, here I am, struggling with the events of the day and trying to make it to the meeting on time.
Is It Here Here or Hear Hear?
One of the most confusing phrases using these words is here, here, or is it hear, hear?
Are you preparing for a debate with someone? Train yourself to exclaim, “Hear, hear,” when you agree with the speaker.
Hear, hear (usually with a comma and set apart as a self-contained sentence) is the conventional spelling of the colloquial exclamation used to express approval for a speaker or sentiment. It’s essentially short for hear him, hear him or hear this, hear this, where these phrases are a sort of cheer.
With words like roommate vs. room mate, many get confused between “hear, hear” and “here, here” because they sound the same. But “hear, hear” is the correct expression that means an agreement with someone’s point. You could say it’s short for “hear, all ye good people, hear what this brilliant and eloquent speaker has to say” since it began as a way to say “here him, here him!“
Here, here is widely regarded as a misspelling, although it is a common one, and there are ways to logically justify its use. But for what it’s worth, hear, hear is the original form (English Dictionaries cite examples going back to the 17th century) and is the one listed in dictionaries.
Even though hear and here sounds alike, they have very different meanings. Use hear for anything that deals with sound. You can easily remember this because the word ear is located in the word hear.
Use here to describe the location or placement of something or someone.