Monday, 20 February 2012

What Do You Hear?


SCENARIO
Imagine you appear to be listening to something when a relative, a friend or a colleague stops by. Maybe you have halted your conversation and pricked your ears or appear to have become otherwise engaged listening to something. The other person is curious and says to you: "what can you hear/ do you hear?"


In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
¿Qué oyes?*

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say:
¿Que oye (usted)?*


*NB In Spanish, it is quite common to use this form of the question ("what do you hear?"), even though what may be meant (in English) is: "what can you hear?".


OUR TIP
The first thing to note is that you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Your main concern should be about communicating what you are hearing. Perhaps you want to say that you hear:
  • Sounds from nature.
  • The sound of music.
  • The sound of general noise.
  • The sound of a specific noise.
  • Other specific sounds (explosion/ thunder/ etc.).
  • People.
  • Animals.

Here are some examples of how you would say what you hear:
  • Oigo el murmullo del viento (I hear the whispering of the wind).
  • Oigo música  (I hear music).
  • Oigo ruido (I hear noise).
  • Oigo el ruido de un motor (I hear the noise of an engine).
  • Oigo explosiones  (I hear explosions).
  • Oigo truenos  (I hear thunder).
  • Oigo gente (I hear people).
  • Oigo a* María (I hear María).
  • Oigo ratones (I hear mice).
    *NB Please note the addition of 'a' when you say you hear a person.


    Now you should practice answering the question:
    ¿Qué oyes?



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