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Are the following sentences both correct? If so, what's the difference?

Hearing the story, John started a bit.

Listening to the story, John started a bit.

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  • By 'started a bit', do you mean that he was startled by something he heard? If so, hearing would be more appropriate. Feb 14 at 9:19
  • Yes, I meant "be startled." The object of "hearing" was "the story." Would "hearing" still be appropriate?
    – Apollyon
    Feb 14 at 12:31
  • Yes, I understand that 'the story' is what he heard, but presumably it was one particular thing in it that was startling. To me, 'listening' seems more to refer to the whole time the story was being told. Feb 14 at 13:29
  • It seems many people reject the "hearing" version in favor of the "listening" one.
    – Apollyon
    Feb 15 at 2:00
  • @KateBunting I could find a few examples of the adverbial use of "Hearing {his, her, the, etc.} story" on GoogleBooks, but most have "after," "upon," or "on" in front.
    – Apollyon
    Feb 16 at 9:37
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Hearing the story seems to imply a finished action, whereas listening to it is a process where some point may have been startling for the man.

1
  • I could find a few examples of the adverbial use of "Hearing {his, her, the, etc.} story" on GoogleBooks, but most have "after," "upon," or "on" in front.
    – Apollyon
    Feb 16 at 9:38

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