[JLPT grammar] The difference between 聞こえる and 聞ける

Today I am going to share the homework correction quoted from my JLPT course!
The student’s sentence is not correct. Can you find the mistake?


[Student’s sentence]





[My correction]

→ 外から猫のなき声が聞こえます
I hear a cat meowing from outside.


聞こえる is a spontaneous verb, used when something is heard naturally or spontaneously. In contrast, 聞ける is a potential-form of 聞く and is used when you consciously pay attention to the sound and listen to it, or when you are in a state of being able to hear the sound, although you have not yet heard it.

In this sentence, you should use 聞こえる, not 聞ける, because it means that the cat’s meow suddenly entered your ears.


It seems like it’s raining. I hear the sound of rain (naturally or spontaneously).

It was great to hear from the famous athletes in the interview (in a state of being able to hear).


I hope my explanation helps you. 😊


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