How to say it in Hebrew
Tip #8

I am often asked...

...what's the difference between מקשיב and שומע?
In short - it's like in English - "hear" and "listen"!
But why is it confusing then? Well, first, do you know the difference between these two in English? ;) Second, there are some subtleties that will confuse you before you know it - let me make some "seder" about it!

שומע - hear
Just like in English when you Skype someone and you think the connection is not too good you would ask - "do you hear me?" In Hebrew we say - אתה שומע אותי?
Saying "hear" we are concerned with the physical aspect - if someone able to hear or not. Unlike the "listen" verb... but wait, we'll talk about it in the next section! *Here is a confusing example that would prove me wrong - the phrase "אני שומע רדיו" or "אני שומע מוזיקה" - we "hear" music and "hear" news... The thing is that that's how native-speakers say it sometimes... which doesn't mean they say it right! ;) Don't we do it with our native-language sometimes? ;)
מקשיב - listen
Listening, though, is different from hearing. Consider this phrase - "I heard the noise" vs "I listened to the noise." In the first case all is normal, but in the second don't you get a funny image of someone standing there and enjoying the noise? ;) Or, at least, the speaker in the second case is making an effort to discern something in this noise, to make some sense of it.
That's the main difference between the two - whereas "hearing" is neutral, it's about the physical ability; the "listening" is about paying attention, making the sounds meaningful. So now you know what to think when someone tells you אני שומע אותך! and when someone tells you אני מקשיב לך!
And when you want to put this knowledge into practice -
watch out for the prepositions, ok? Because one can

לשמוע את הרעש
but, as in the funny example above
להקשיב לרעש!

That's it for this week!
Hope you are enjoying the newsletter,
Happy Hebrew-learning!
Learn Hebrew on the go!
Subscribe to "Hebrew Tips"
Made on