I was practicing writing sentences and tried to write the following in Japanese:

I heard he escaped from the island.

I originally came up with


But then I was corrected by 2 different native speakers. Their changes are in bold.

Person A:


Person B:


When I read Person A's correction I read it as

I literally heard (as in noises) him escape from the island.

I think Person B's correction is more in line with what I meant and I read it as

I heard (from someone else) he escaped from the island.

Assuming I'm right about the above, I don't understand why と was used instead of を in the 聞きました part.

Now I'm wondering

  1. Why was this done or when should I use と over を with 聞く?
  2. When nominalizing, do verbs have to stay in their "pure" dictionary form or can I change the tense? Could I write the following or is this grammatically incorrect? Does it mean the same thing as Person B's correction?


1 Answer 1


You already seem to vaguely understand the difference, but to summarize:

  • noun + ~を聞く = I hear [noun]: You hear a sound/music/story/etc. 窓が割れるのを聞いた means your heard the cracking noise.
  • clause + ~と聞く = I hear that [clause]: You hear some fact (via conversations/news/etc). 窓が割れたと聞いた means you heard the news from someone but did not hear the noise itself.

In your case, what you needed was the latter; you heard the news, not the noise.


Therefore, this never means the same thing as B's correction simply because of を. In addition, Japanese subordinate clauses are based on relative tense, so this usage of 逃げた is not natural, either (although understandable). If you did hear his "escaping noise" directly, the sentence by A is correct because (私が)聞く and (彼が)逃げる happened at the same time in the past.

That said, in general, it's perfectly fine to nominalize a ta-form. For example you can say それを見たのを覚えています "I remember I saw it")

  • I'm confused. In the page you linked many users state that no. 4 is incorrect or unnatural - テレビが私の国で 《できる》 のは1960 《でした》。But here you say that a similar structure, 逃げるのを聞きました is correct. Am I misunderstanding something? And would 彼が逃げると聞いた have the same meaning as Person B, or is it a difference between a statement 逃げるの vs quotation 逃げたと? Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 9:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .