I asked my native english speaking friends and they all said I’m not using “listen up” the right way. Here’s the lyric:

Jane won’t talk about it
But every night she feels like crying
And there’s no one at home to listen up

I went to online dictionaries and they all point that “listen up” is generally used in a command context. But they’re keen to admit that only the “usual” use case.

Anybody has used it the way I’m using it? To mean when somebody listens with attention.

  • 2
    You could just use pay attention (or listen to me) instead. That way there wouldn't be any ambiguity or objection. Jan 20, 2019 at 7:15

1 Answer 1


Yes, "listen up" can really only be used as an imperative. "Listen to (her)" might be better. Using "listen up" in that way would likely induce confusion in listeners. More interestingly, "confide in" or "comfort her" might work as well.

  • Thank you for your answer. However, when writing lyrics, rhyming proximity is important. So confide in or comfort her wouldn't work in this case, but I'm thinking that maybe "hear her out" might work sound wise and I guess it's close enough to what I'm trying to say. I'm also curious why you say it's really only why most online references would say it's only "usually imperative" but admittedly not 100% of the times.
    – kriztho
    Jan 24, 2019 at 19:28
  • @kriztho I cannot think of any circumstance in which it could be used outside of the imperative form, but maybe there's something I forgot.
    – user45266
    Jan 24, 2019 at 23:08

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