You might think you already know what the phrase “I hear you” means, but did you know that it has more than one meaning. This article will look at the meanings in both an impatient and a sympathetic way, so you know how you can use it yourself.
What Does “I Hear You” Mean?
“I hear you” means “I understand what you’re saying.” We use it when we’ve understood something that someone has said to us, but we might not be able to do much about it. We could also use it impatiently to show that we don’t care what the other person says.
As a sympathetic phrase, “I hear you” is a polite way of acknowledging what somebody has said, and it usually involves them telling you about a grievance or problem they might have.
When we use it impatiently, it means we’re not interested in what the person has to say. We mostly say this when someone adds nothing relevant to a situation or they’re constantly nagging us about completing something that we have yet to do.
Is “I Hear You” Impatient Or Sympathetic?
“I hear you” is both impatient and sympathetic, and it entirely depends on the meaning of how you choose to use it. Most of the decisions between which of the two tones you’ll use come from the context and the person you’re speaking to.
If you respect the person you’re speaking to and understand their problem, then you can use “I hear you” sympathetically. If you don’t respect the person, or you don’t want to respect their opinion, we can use “I hear you” impatiently.
When you get more experienced with tone in English, you’ll have a much easier time determining whether someone is impatient or sympathetic about something.
Usually, the tone is what gives it away, and it’s really easy to work out. The sentence that someone uses after “I hear you” in either case is usually quite telling as well.
- Impatient: I hear you, but I don’t care. (Not caring is a key sign of impatience or disrespect)
- Sympathetic: I hear you, and I want to help. (Helping is the most sympathetic a person can be)
Examples Of “I Hear You” Being Impatient
Let’s go over some examples of using “I hear you” as an impatient phrase. We’ll try to include as many variations as possible, and we’ll make sure to include the previous sentence or question so you know why someone might be saying it.
- We need to do something about the new staff members.
- I hear you, but you keep saying the same thing! There’s nothing more we can do.
- Remember that you need to do your chores before your grandparents get here.
- Yeah, I hear you!
- Don’t forget to pop in the store before you come back.
- I hear you! I always hear you!
- I’m having a difficult time adjusting to the new schedule.
- Look, I hear you. I just don’t care.
- You need to go and do your job before I fire you!
- I heard you the first time. Just bear with me.
“I hear you” in an impatient way is rude and disrespectful. You should only use it when someone nags you about doing something, and even then there are plenty of better options that won’t cause offense.
Examples Of “I Hear You” Being Sympathetic
- Is there anything you can do to help the local community?
- I hear you, and I hope so. I won’t be able to let you know until I know more, though.
- I’m really struggling to fit in with the team here.
- I hear you, and I’ll do what I can to remedy that.
- I think I need to quit my job, but I don’t know what to do next.
- I hear you, and if there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know!
- I think it’s time that we see other people.
- Okay, I hear you, but I think we should have a serious discussion before you say anything more about that!
- I really need your help on this! Please!
- I hear you, and I’m happy to help. Just bear with me while I finish up this document.
“I hear you” works as a sympathetic phrase when we’re trying to offer help to somebody. We can also use it to simply acknowledge what they’ve said and let them know that we’re listening to them or their problems.
Does “I Hear You” And “I Hear What You’re Saying” Mean The Same?
“I hear you” and “I hear what you’re saying” are identical phrases. “I hear you” is simply a shortened phrase of “I hear what you’re saying.” However, it’s much more common to use “I hear what you’re saying” in a sympathetic sense, and it’s rare that you’ll use it impatiently.
Because they’re the same phrase, it’s possible to use them interchangeably. You can see that with the following:
- I hear you, and I’ll do whatever I can to help!
- I hear what you’re saying, and I’ll do whatever I can to help!
What Can I Say Instead Of “I Hear You”?
If you’re struggling with understanding how “I hear you” works, or you’re not sure whether you’ve mastered the tone differences of it, then a synonym or alternative might be useful. You can try one of these instead.
- I understand you
- I’m here for you
- I’m here to help
- I get that
- I respect that
- I’m listening
You might also like: “I Feel You” Meaning: 11 Example Sentences (For Beginners)
How Should I Respond, When Someone Says “I Hear You”?
Knowing how to respond to “I hear you” is just as important as using it yourself.
To respond to “I hear you” in a sympathetic way, you should reply by talking to them more about your problems in case they can help. If they say it impatiently, then it’s best to not respond at all, as it’s clear they don’t value your input.