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Old June 13, 2010, 02:41 AM
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Oír vs. Escuchar

I thought that "oír" was rather close to "to hear" in English and that "escuchar" was rather close to "to listen". And that is how I use these words. But sometimes I hear them used in the opposite way than I would expect.

For example, I was doing a sentence in my workbook and I found the following:
La chica está oyendo la radio.
Why is it "oír" instead of "escuchar"? Is "oír" the verb typically used with what one does with a radio?

Another example:
My Peruvian friend will say something to her son, which he promptly "ignores" (he's 10 ... all ten-year-olds try to get away with simple stuff like that...). Anyway, she'll say something once and if he doesn't respond in a timely manner, she will say "¿¡Escuchaste!?"

Well, when English-speaking mothers say something that is promptly ignored, they'll follow up with "Did you hear me?" When I think about that, it's often almost sarcastic because it is usually said at a time when the physical act of hearing in that situation is not in question. I know that some people might say "Are you listening?", but that is in the present tense, and doesn't really seem to convey the meaning that my friend is emphasizing with her son.....

I KNOW that there is not a one-to-one correlation between languages. I would just like a little bit more insight into the not-so-obvious differences between these two words.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old June 13, 2010, 03:21 AM
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Many people confuse these two terms. In your examples, where you wrote "oír", I'd say "escuchar, and vice versa:

La chica está escuchando la radio.
¿Me has oído? (this is the tense I would use in my country ).

There is a meaning of will in "escuchar"/listen that you can't find in "oír"/hear.

I've always used these terms with the same meaning in English or in Spanish (hear: oír; listen: escuchar). And I think I haven't ever had any problem.
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Old June 13, 2010, 03:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irmamar View Post
Many people confuse these two terms. In your examples, where you wrote "oír", I'd say "escuchar, and vice versa:

La chica está escuchando la radio.
¿Me has oído? (this is the tense I would use in my country ).

There is a meaning of will in "escuchar"/listen that you can't find in "oír"/hear.

I've always used these terms with the same meaning in English or in Spanish (hear: oír; listen: escuchar). And I think I haven't ever had any problem.
Excellent! So I'm not going totally crazy. (Only a little bit... .) Thanks, Irmamar. I'll be interested to hear what others have to say...
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Old June 13, 2010, 03:46 AM
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I have always understood things as Irma said.
To hear = oír = the physical sense of detecting a sound
To listen to = escuchar = make sense of these sounds

However, my dictionary indicates there is quite an overlap, both in English and in Spanish:

oír = to hear
no oiga nada I can't hear anything
he oído hablar de él I've heard of him

oír = to listen to
oigo la radio por la mañana I listen to the radio in the morning
el juez oyó a los dos partes The judge heard both sides

The last example is interesting, because oír and to hear are used in clear sense of to listen to (hopefully)

oír misa to go to mass (where one hopes the people might actually be listening )

escuchar = to listen to
no me escuchaba she wasn't listening to me

escuchar = to hear
habla más fuerte que no te escucho speak up, I can hardly hear you

However, the last meaning of escuchar = to hear is given specifically as Latin America

Language is so woolly, isn't it?

Last edited by Perikles; June 13, 2010 at 03:48 AM.
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Old June 13, 2010, 05:33 AM
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Right - In Latin American usage sometimes one hears "to hear" as "escuchar", like "Esa palabra no la he escuchado aquí.", = "I haven't
heard that word here.".

Also, "...oyendo la radio/música, etc." = "...listening to the radio/music, etc." Apparently a bit more interchangeable
on this side of the Atlantic.
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Last edited by hermit; June 13, 2010 at 05:42 AM.
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Old June 13, 2010, 07:45 AM
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Totalmente de acuerdo con Perikles.
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Old June 13, 2010, 11:20 AM
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All of this is very helpful! I'll be listening for the use of these two words in BsAs!
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Old June 13, 2010, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perikles View Post
I have always understood things as Irma said.
To hear = oír = the physical sense of detecting a sound
To listen to = escuchar = make sense of these sounds

However, my dictionary indicates there is quite an overlap, both in English and in Spanish:

oír = to hear
no oiga nada I can't hear anything
he oído hablar de él I've heard of him

oír = to listen to
oigo la radio por la mañana I listen to the radio in the morning
el juez oyó a los dos partes The judge heard both sides

In both examples I'd say "escuchar".

The last example is interesting, because oír and to hear are used in clear sense of to listen to (hopefully)

oír misa to go to mass (where one hopes the people might actually be listening )

Yes, it is said "oír misa" (maybe because almost nobody listens to it)

escuchar = to listen to
no me escuchaba she wasn't listening to me


escuchar = to hear
habla más fuerte que no te escucho speak up, I can hardly hear you

I'd say: que no te oigo.

However, the last meaning of escuchar = to hear is given specifically as Latin America

Language is so woolly, isn't it?
Many people in my around says "oír" when I would say "escuchar". I don't know the reason.
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Old June 13, 2010, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laepelba View Post
All of this is very helpful! I'll be listening for the use of these two words in BsAs!
You're going to hear more than anything one of those words: "escuchar". Generally, we use it in a way that replaces "oir", as if when you would use -in theory- "oir", you can replace it with: "escuchar", but not vice versa. "Generally" is near 100%.
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Last edited by ookami; June 13, 2010 at 11:58 AM.
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Old June 13, 2010, 11:47 AM
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"More than nothing"? Hmmm....

Hey, Oookami - check out my post on "voseo"...
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