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  5. "Entendre" and "écouter" in F…


"Entendre" and "écouter" in French

  • 1601

The verb "entendre" can translate to "hear", "listen" or "understand", depending on the context:

  • "hear" (perceive a sound with your ears, passively). Ex: "J'entends du bruit." means "I hear noise."
  • "listen". Ex: "Elle ne veut rien entendre." means "She won't listen."
  • "understand" (formal and rare). Ex: "Cela s'entend parfaitement." means "That is perfectly understandable."

The verb "écouter" only translates to "listen". In this case, "listen" can have 3 main meanings:

  • "listen to something" (intentionally). Ex: "J'écoute de la musique." means "I am listening to music."
  • "listen" in the sense of "paying attention". Ex: "Écoutez-moi quand je parle !" means "Listen to me when I speak!"
  • "obey something". Ex: "Écouter la voix de la sagesse." means "Listen to the voice of reason."
April 22, 2014



Thank you for the explanation. I love when people post these details since duolingo has been my only source for French learning so far. Hoping to make it to a 100 day streak before our trip to France in June.


that's awesome! I get to go to Italy in about 8 months, however I have neglected to learn it -.- Would it be worth it? It's a tour that's 9 days


Yes! Definitely worth it! You'll know a whole new language, the knowing of which will make learning other ones (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Romanian) way easier! Plus, in eight months you can easily learn it :D


You'll get a lot more out of your trip if you do learn Italian before you go. 8 months is heaps of time. Italian is easier to learn than German.


If Germans can speak German and Italians can speak Italian, than anyone can speak them. Because of this, I don't really consider a language easier than another. Every language has its unique set of rules to communicate, the languages that are considered different than ours is considered hard. Meh, just open up to new ideas. Kind of like how people greet each other differently in different languages or how some don't even have a way of saying yes. ehh, Guess I'll try to add some Italian to my routine..


Sure, it's possible to learn all languages. But Italian has a simpler grammar with fewer irregularities than English or French; fewer sounds in its phonology; fewer letters in its alphabet (depending on how you count accented letters...) You might find this article in the UK's Telegraph newspaper of interest...http://tinyurl.com/pgzn4z8


8 months is perfect. I love the sound of Italian. When you speak and comprehend the language spoken in a country, it greatly enriches your travel experience. I went to Costa Rica after a semester of Spanish and was so happy that I could have conversations (even if quite limited) with the locals. As for the ease of learning a new language, it really depends on your native language and other languages you know. I'm originally from India but now live in the US, so I was already multilingual. I found Spanish easier to learn than French but my knowledge of Spanish did help with French although I mix them up sometimes. From what I've read, Italian is also a phonetic language like Spanish and follows rules mostly unlike French and English.


"Elle ne veut rien entendre." I preceive as "She won't hear anything", whereas "Elle ne veut rien ecouter" seems to me more like "She won't listen" - I see écouter more as a literal translation of listen, and entendre as hear.

(I'm also a native french speaker)

Maybe I'm wrong, but that is how i've always seen it :)


Hi, can you just clarify something about the usage of these two phrases in french as you see it?

Say for example that you were having trouble with your teenage daughter and a friend said Tu veux que je lui parle? Would you reply Ça ne vaut la peine - elle ne veut rien entendre or elle ne veut rien écouter or peut-être on peut dire soit l'un soit l'autre? Because the only way to translate this sense in English is She won't listen

In English when we say She won't hear anything it means she won't be able to hear. You would say it if for example if you were worried the loud music would wake your girlfriend's mother, but your friend would say Don't worry, she won't hear anything, she's a deep sleeper" So it is more Elle ne VA rein entendre*

Whereas She won't listen means that she doesn't want to hear, (hence she won't be listening so we say she won't listen) In french this becomes elle ne VEUT rein entendre, or so I thought. So confused.


Both sentences would be correct to use in french, just entendre in this case would be literally as if she refused to hear anything, so would indeed be less commonly used, but is still correct. Elle ne veut rien écouter is she won't listen. Although perhaps you can use, also using the 'hence', "listen = écouter" to say she won't hear "entendre".


Thanks. Having thought about it, there are times in English when we would use hear in the sense of listening - She won't hear any more/another word about it So it seems both can be used in both languages and it will depend on context - comme d'habitude : ) When translating, we just need to use (as always) the best word in the target language given the context.


You are amazing. Thanks for sharing! Thanks you for taking your time to help others!


Merci, tres utile!


Bonsoir Remy,

Je trouve que ce genre de "cours" est très intéressant et fort utile pour ceux qui apprennent le français. Dans notre cas ici, il est utile pour tout le monde, même pour ceux qui apprennent l'anglais.

Comment ça se fait que ce genre de cours n'est pas fait pour ceux qui apprennent l'anglais ? Ce serait aussi utile pour nous. En tout cas, je serai preneur...:)

  • 1601

Hi, you are right: we are going to improve this soon! Thanks :)


Mille fois merci !:)


Thanks for that, it is crystal clear, as indeed are all of your posts. Please keep them coming, I find them so useful.


Thanks for explaining! :-)


monsieur ,j' ai un problème , pourquoi ' be doing something ' je ne peux pas le traduire comme "etre en train de '


Ecouter can simply been seen as the active form of Entendre. just like regarder is the same to voir


bonjour je m'appelle shahyn je suis français et je veux apprendre l'anglais


je trouve que ce que tu marque est très remarquable..... BRAVO!!!!!

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