Meaning of 'TO LISTEN TO' and 'TO LISTEN IN'

Hello. my dear friends. I am in a maze.
Today I saw the expression:

Test No. [color=blue]incompl/inter-42 “Keeping it Quiet”, question 8

The rescuers tried desperately to listen out for people trapped in the wreckage but sadly the cries of those trapped were .

(a) unhearing
(b) auditory
(c) audited
(d) inaudible

Test No. [color=blue]incompl/inter-42 “Keeping it Quiet”, answer 8

The rescuers tried desperately to listen out for people trapped in the wreckage but sadly the cries of those trapped were inaudible.

Correct answer: (d) inaudible

I don’t understand it. I know only expressions:
Tell me , please about it.
Many thanks in advance.
cowboy 8)

Hi Cowboy,

Thanks for contributing to the forum. The expression ‘listen out for’ means listen very carefully so that you can hear someone or something you are expecting. Let me give you an example. Imagine you are expecting the postman to bring you a parcel one morning and you don’t want to miss him. You know approximately what time the postman usually comes and so at that time you are very attentive and wait to hear him ring the bell and you listen out for him. Again someone has told you that an actor has a particular way of pronouncing a certain letter and says: Next time you hear that actor on television listen out for the way he pronounces the letter ‘r’.

Hope this helps

Best wishes


Hello Alan. Your examples helped me to understand this expression.
Many thanks.
Cowboy :smiley:

Hum…interesting. You are always excellent teacher for us, Alan.

Telling me please. What is the difference between inaudible and unhearing in that sentence?

Thanks indeed.


‘Inaudible’ suggests difficult or impossible to hear. If there was a recording on the forum which was made with a poor microphone so that it was virtually impossible for anyone to understand it, that could be described as inaudible/ ‘Unhearing’ would be an unusual formation suggesting not ‘listening to’. I would say that ‘unheard’ is more common and gives the idea of ‘ignored’ or ‘not taken notice of’ as in: Her complaints were unheard as nobody bothered to listen to what she said. Again 'unheard-of suggests very unusual, not recognised as in: This is an expression that is unheard-of in modern English.


Thank you Mr. Alan for helping me out of the problem. Your answers is always clear.

Sorry, Your answers are always clear. :wink:

Good day sir!

Thanks for enlightening the people here in ESL community with your comprehensive explanations about certain topics regarding grammar usage of the English language. I am grateful to you for sharing us your expertise of the language.

By the way, I have a question which I hope you could help me out with this:

Where should be the proper place of the word “already” when used in a sentence?


The position of ‘already’ as with many adverbs depends very much on the emphasis that you wish to give to the word. You can say: I already know the answer/I know the answer already. By putting ‘already’ at the end in the second sentence you put a greater stress on the adverb. I have written some notes on adverbs for the site, which you may find useful -