The Past Tense of Hear: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

Have you ever got stuck on the correct past tense of the word hear? This article will explain the conjugations of the word hear and also define hear and give you all the information you need about how to use the word in English grammar. 

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What Is the Definition of the Word Hear?

The English verb hear is defined as:

Transitive verb 

  • to perceive or become aware of by the ear
    • didn’t hear what she said
    • thought I heard them leave
  • to gain knowledge of by hearing
    • heard that you were ill
  • to listen to with attention : HEED
    • would not hear my side of the story
  • attend
    • hear mass
  • law: to give a listening to legal arguments in : to give a legal hearing to
    • hear a case
  • law: to take testimony from
    • hear witnesses

Intransitive verb

  • to have the capacity of perceiving sound : to be able to become aware of sound
    • He doesn’t hear well.
  • to gain information : LEARN
    • tired of hearing about his problems
  • to receive communication
    • haven’t heard from her lately
  • to entertain the idea —used in the negative
    • wouldn’t hear of it
  • often used in the expression Hear! Hear! to express approval (as during a speech)

What Is the Past Tense of Hear?

The past tense of hear is heard. This would be used in a sentence like: I heard him say that he was skipping class. 

How Do You Conjugate Hear?

Here are some conjugations of the irregular verb hear, including the past tense verb forms: 

Infinitive: To hear

Present Participle/Gerund: Hearing

Past Participle: Heard

Simple Present TenseSimple Past TenseFuture Tense
I hearheardAm hearing
You hearheardAre hearing
He/she/it hearsheardIs hearing
We hearheardAre hearing
They hearheardAre hearing

The History and Origin of the Word

The word hear can be traced back to at least the 12th century. It was used at this time by this definition: to perceive or become aware of by the ear. “To hear, perceive by the ear, listen to, obey, follow; accede to, grant, judge”.

It comes from the Middle English language and was spelled heren. Before the Middle English language it was “hieran in Old English, which was similar to the Old German horen. These all meant to hear or listen and gain knowledge of by your ear. 

The phrase “hear, hear” originally meant to hear someone speaking. This was used to get the gathering or crowd to listen to what a speaker was saying. This phrase can be traced back to the 1680’s but it wasn’t till 1754 when the phrase began to be used as an exclamation of approval of what someone is saying. 

Synonyms of Hear

  • Ascertain –  to find out or learn with certainty
  • Catch on to – to become aware 
  • Discover – to make known or visible
  • Find out – to learn by study, observation, or search
  • Get on to – to gain knowledge or understanding 
  • Learn – to gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience
  • Realize –  to conceive vividly as real: be fully aware of
  • See – to be aware of
  • Wise up – characterized by wisdom: marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment

Examples of the Word in Context


Next time you need to write the word hear, you will be well prepared for everything you need to know what it is and how to use it efficiently within American English. If you’re trying to learn English, you should feel confident with the different conjugations, the history of the word, and the definition.