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Distinctions: ‘Hear’ and ‘Here’

Posted by CW64 on December 31, 2012

In my education and experience as a writer and editor, I have noticed many misuses of words, especially common words. Such erroneous practices have become prevalent in the writing community and continue to stand out in my mind as something both serious and disturbing. For that reason, I have decided to write an ongoing series of articles, called simply “Distinctions,” which will explain the differences between the featured terms and how they are or should be used in writing. At the end of each article, I will provide either a quiz or set of exercises for readers to test their knowledge and skills. Hopefully, this ongoing effort will allow said readers to gain something to help them be better writers.

In this post, I focus on ‘hear’ and ‘here.’ These two words, though pronounced the same, bear obvious distinctions in meaning; yet many people, including writers, misuse them. .
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Hear

“Hear” is a verb that refers to the ability to perceive and decipher sounds through the ears. Sometimes it refers to mental comprehension of something relative to sound. In addition, the word denotes giving someone or something due attention as well as approval. (Se here)

Verb (transitive or intransitive)

Example

Danny could hear the battle hymn a mile away.
“I hear you,” Max” told James, reassuringly. “Getting mugged sucks big time.”
Judge Gentry was preparing to hear the case regarding the man who allegedly murdered his wife and child; such a circumstance required due care.
“Hear, hear!” the governor concurred during the meeting. “We need to allot more funding to education. Our children need it.”

The first instance relates to the most common reference for “hear,” and that is the ability to perceive sound, which Danny can do quite well, since he catches the battle hymn from such an extreme distance. The second, though similar, refers more to comprehension, as Max offers sensitivity and support to his friend by acknowledging that he is listening and understands how it feels to get mugged. In the third example, Judge Gentry is about to officiate over a legal case as a judge, so “hear” infers more than merely hearing it; he is also giving the issue his professional attention and will apply his objective assessment in accordance with the law. Similarly, the governor is acknowledging the fact his attention is active during the meeting consisting of his board, but he also contributes his agreeable feedback on the issue regarding funding for education, which is important to him. All relate to perception of sound but in different ways: the first is auditory (physical, through the ear), the second is emotional, the third is professional and the fourth is intellectual.

Here

This term serves in most cases as an adverb and is generally the opposite of “there” (see “Distinctions: ‘There,’ ‘Their’ and ‘They’re’ on this blog) and refers to being situated in or moving towards a present location, as in “this spot, location or place.” It also indicates an achieved stage of a process, as at a particular point in the present time. Finally, ‘here’ is used to apply attention through possession or discovery. (See here)

Adverb

Examples:

“We’re here,” Nick pointed at the map. “We need to go another fifty miles before we reach San Francisco. “I’d say that will be about another hour at least.”
Here, Debbie raised her hand to ask a question to the teacher regarding the math lesson written on the chalkboard.
“Here are the documents for the case,” Doug Marville acknowledged, handing the folder to his female colleague. “It’s all-inclusive, so you shouldn’t have any problems.”

Nick informs his fellow travelers were they are situated geographically compared to the location of San Francisco, and then he specifies the distance between these two points by clarifying how much time is remaining in their trip. Debbie’s hand-raising, on the other hand, denotes a particular point within the process of events pertaining to her classroom lessons. Doug, who apparently is in a position of authority and delegating assignments, identifies the contents of the folder he is passing to his colleague who is expected to complete it. In the end, “here” establishes the comparative proximity of someone or something in relation to another. The first is geographical in nature, while the second is temporal and the third is that of ownership or possession.

Adjective

“Here” is also used as an adjective, denoting emphasis as a means of identifying a noun and its demonstrative adjective. The adjectival role is similar to all three references in adverbial form above, but rather than point out location, it describes or specifies, as in the sentence: “These tickets, here, are for you,” John said to his friend Margaret.

Noun

The purpose of “here” as a noun is essentially to identify the place of present location without specifying the name of said place. More universally, however, “here” refers to the world, life and the present and future times.

Examples:

“We begin from here and proceed forward two hundred yards,” the hiker directed to his charges. “Remember to meet back here in five hours.”
“The here and now,” the orator put forth boldly; “this is where the future begins.”

The hiker, who is supposedly a leader or instructor of some sort, uses “here” twice to indicate the present location of him and his followers; the orator, however, speaks in a philosophical sense, presumably to inspire her or his audience. In the first sentence, “here” is geographical, while the latter is, again, temporal; both usages refer to a place that is in close proximity of the speaker and those to whom she or he is speaking.

Interjection

As an interjection, this word “here” commands the attention of or to offer comfort to the listener. It is quite often used in casual or colloquial speech, but its inherent reference is approximately the same as before: to denote, albeit indirectly, an issue or concern in the present time or location.

Examples:

“Here, let me help you,” Dave said, assisting Suzy as she picked up her spilled books.
“Here, now, you don’t mean that,” the senator said, caught off-guard by the lobbyist’s refusal to support the cause without explanation.

The uses of “here” in these two instances are general, but they allude to a present time-place situation with an unspecified or abstract sense of importance. The “here” in the first sentence acknowledges the circumstance of spilled books necessarily taking precedence in that point in time. The second sentence, likewise, does the same regarding the refusal by the listener that stirs apparent concern in the senator who needs the support.

Summary:

Hear: referring to the act or ability of perceiving sounds (physical) and comprehension (intellectual and emotional)
Here: referring to the present location or time period (geographical/temporal)

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Quiz:

1) Choose the right word:

hear, here

Amplify ________________________________________
Binary _________________________________________
Clang __________________________________________
Clock __________________________________________
Current _________________________________________
Ding-Dong_______________________________________
Eardrum ________________________________________
Earth ___________________________________________
First ___________________________________________
Guitar __________________________________________
Modern _________________________________________
Music __________________________________________
Near ___________________________________________
Now____________________________________________
Observant _______________________________________
Phone___________________________________________
Reverberations ___________________________________
Roundabout _____________________________________
Song ___________________________________________
Still ____________________________________________
Today___________________________________________
Twang __________________________________________
Urgency _________________________________________
Vibrations _______________________________________
Watchful_________________________________________

2) True or False

• Jamie could here the bus approaching four blocks away.
• “Hear, There and Everywhere” is a famous song by The Beatles.
• “Here you go,” mother said as she handed her daughter a napkin. “Don’t make a mess.”
• “Hear me now!” The mayor raised his hand as he spoke directly into the microphone to hush the crowd “I firmly believe in equal pay for men and women!”
• As Michael walked down the deserted hallway of the abandoned hospital, he could here buzzing voices nearby. Damn—the place is haunted! He thought, stunned.
• “This deaf mute, hear, can read sign language,” the policeman explained to his partner. “We need to wait hear for an interpreter.”
• “Donald arrived here this afternoon,” the head mistress said. “He feels so alone now that his parents are gone.”

3) Fill in the Blanks:

hear, here

• “I’m _________ now, so you don’t have to worry,” mother said, embracing her infant. “I could _________ you crying all the way downstairs.”

• “I hope I _________ from you soon,” Jesse said to Maggie before hanging up the phone. “I want to spend more time with you.”

• “The drink was left _________ before I sat down,” Stephen explained to the waiter. “I can _________ the band and I am already thirsty.”

• _________ was Janie, tall and proud, waiting for the bus to take her home. She would _________ no more of Tom’s nonsense regarding how he’s never cheated a day in his life. She knew better.

• ________ or there; it made no difference. Mick knew he’d catch her either way.

• “To ________ me is to understand me,” Rebecca said on stage before singing. Everybody clapped and gathered around the stage. She smiled. “Thanks for being _______ tonight.”

• “Hearing is one of the most important senses,” Alfred said at his podium. “But with the visuals we have _________ this semester will rely on sight more than anything. Your tests will depend on observation.”

• Music is one of the greatest pleasures in life. That’s why it is necessary for us all ______ in the world to listen and enjoy as much as we can before we are gone.

• “’________’ and ‘_________.’ Which one is preferable to a deaf man who doesn’t know where he’s at?” The comedian thought he’d get the audience to think as well as laugh.

• ________, the birds sing all day long, so the place is a pleasant place to relax for those who can _________.

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3 Responses to “Distinctions: ‘Hear’ and ‘Here’”

  1. blog said

    I just could not depart your website prior to suggesting that I actually enjoyed the standard info a person provide for your visitors? Is gonna be back often to check up on new posts

    • CW64 said

      Thank you for commenting. Yes, I write for those who seek useful information and a sense of simplicity in the information they seek. Sometimes that information cannot be presented briefly (see: ‘That’ and ‘Then’), but it’s meanings and references are clear. Please stay tune for further posts in this series. They are on their way . . .

      CW64

  2. Fantastic site. Lots of useful info here. Iˇm sending it to some pals ans also sharing. Thanks!

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