Homophones: Hear, Here

Perhaps You Will Here Better over Hear. — Huh? What’s That?

by Owen Fourie

Which sentence is correct?

  1. I did not here you coming home last night.
  2. I did not hear you coming home last night.

If you voted for the second sentence, the bad news is that you are in the minority. Evidently, the majority of Web users would consider the first sentence to be correct.

The good news is that if you voted for the second sentence, you are correct.

Being in the majority with incorrect usage cannot make the error correct or acceptable. That so many mistakenly write here for hear is a reflection of the sad state of English writing, especially on the Internet.

Correct usage is a mark of care, quality, professionalism and trustworthiness. Your concern should be

  • to be aware of common usage errors as you write;
  • to know what is correct;
  • to refuse to follow the crowd;
  • to question your own usage;
  • to use reliable sources for the improvement of your writing.

Let’s get some clarity on the here-hear issue.

Here

Think of here as a word that is commonly associated with place or position. It has nothing to do with hearing unless I cuff you here on your ear!  >8-D  — Not nice.

  • We’ll stop here in this place to have some tea.
  • We’ll stop here at this point in our reading.
  • We’ll adjourn the meeting here and resume at two o’clock.

Hear

The word hear has nothing to do with place or position apart from the ear as the organ of hearing that does have a particular place.

It is easy to associate this word with the bodily function of hearing if you note that it contains the word ear.

“Here, here!” or “Hear, hear!”?

Someone has asked this question on the Internet:

I …. here British politicians in Parliament use the phrase “here here”…. but what does that mean?

This is a perfectly reasonable question, but what have you noticed?

The first “here” should be “hear” as discussed above. What about “here here”?

If British politicians are saying “here, here!” in parliament, to whom are they saying this? To members across the floor telling them to come here and change sides on a crucial vote? The Speaker of the House might have something to say about that. To the Prime Minister as he is speaking and telling him to come over here and say that again, if he dare? That would not be nice.

It is not “here, here!” that they are saying. It is “hear, hear!” that is being uttered, usually as an approval of what is being said by a particular member of parliament.

Hear, hear! is an abbreviated form of hear him, hear him! In its original form, it seems that it was first used in the 17th Century and continued in this way until the 19th Century. By the late 18th Century, parliamentarians were using hear, hear!

If the polls are correct, you know now what most users of the Internet seem not to know, for the evidence is that most elect here, here! as the correct term.

Herd, heard

The past tense of hear is heard.

Have you heard how heard is being abused on the Internet? Consider this statement in an ebook:

they are either following the heard or some authority figure …

This writer—one of many who do so—is confusing the past tense of hear with herd, as in a herd of elephants.

Do you suppose that there could be a heard of elephants, given those big ears of theirs? Not really. Let’s be clear about the distinction between herd and heard:

Herd: a group of animals of the same kind.

Heard: the past tense of hear.

Correcting the subtitle

Here is the corrected subtitle for this article:

Perhaps You Will Hear Better over Here. — Huh? What’s That?

  • “If I raise my voice like this, can you hear me?”
  • “If I stand here next to you, will this be easier for you?”

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Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome. Are you struggling with homophones or any other aspect of grammar and correct usage? Ask here for clarification.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

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