Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 4: 16/18


To be audible, To sound (like), (Can) hear, To be heard

聞こえる was originally a conjugation of 聞く、but nowadays it is treated as a standalone intransitive verb


Noun + + ()こえる
[い]Adjective[く]+ ()こえる
[な]Adjective + に + ()こえる
Noun + に + ()こえる


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About 聞こえる

()こえる is a verb that is often used to describe things that can be heard, or the way in which something is heard. Because of this, the most common translations of this verb are 'to be audible', or 'to sound like (A)'. ()こえる is an intransitive verb, and literally means 'to give off sound'.
When using ()こえる, (A) will always be followed by . (A) is considered to be the 'source' of the sound (a noun). However, the 'way that something sounds' will be marked adverbially. This means that an い-Adjective will be changed to its く form, and な-Adjectives/nouns will be followed by .
  • (くるま)(おと)()こえる
    I can hear the sound of a car.
  • アニメ()てく(おんな)()(こえ)可愛(かわい)()こえるけど声優(せいゆう)いつもおばさん
    Voices of girls that appear in anime sound cute, but the voice actor is always an old lady.
  • こう(うた)上手(じょうず)()こえる
    If you sing like this, you will sound good.
  • 電車(でんしゃ)(おと)のように()こえるけどあれ(となり)(ひと)いびき
    It sounds like the noise from a train, but it's the neighbor's snoring.
Fun Fact
The primary difference between ()こえる, and ()ける (the potential form of ()く), is that ()こえる is used to identify things that do not require the active concentration of the listener to be heard. In other words, ambient noise. However, ()ける is used when the speaker is trying to concentrate on some specific sound, and refers to their 'ability' to hear it.
  • (しず)部屋(へや)()こえる
    You can hear it if you are in a quiet room. (Without effort)
  • (しず)かな部屋(へや)にいると()ける
    If you are in a quiet room, you can hear it. (If you focus and try to hear the sound)




    'Nishiyama has been deaf since birth.'


    My neighbor Seki is too loud! Whenever he listens to music, I can hear it in my flat!


    'The teacher is too quiet, so I cannot hear anything.'


    'Since it is loud outside, I cannot hear the TV very well.'


    'The sound of the waterfall is really loud, and we can hear it even from here!'

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聞こえる – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (8 in total)

  • rexd


    The grammar page says “Noun + が + 聞こえる”, but “今のノック____た?” dinged me for “が 聞こえ”. It just wanted “今のノック聞きこえた” Can someone help me wrap my brain around this one? I assumed ノック is a noun.

  • okayfrog


    I’m wondering about this as well. Doesn’t make any sense.

  • Fuga


    Hey @rexd !

    ノック is a noun, so we have added がきこえた as an accepted answer.

    Although が should be used there, when 聞こえた is simply used as ‘hear’ in a casual conversation, it can be omitted.

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