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Thread: didn't listen VS. wouldn't listen

  1. #1 didn't listen VS. wouldn't listen 
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    I told him he ought to be in school, but he wouldn't listen!

    I told him he ought to be in school, but he didn't listen!

    Would you please show me what is the difference between these?

    Many thanks


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    flattened rat 甘肃人's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nima_persian View Post
    I told him he ought to be in school, but he wouldn't listen!

    I told him he ought to be in school, but he didn't listen!

    Would you please show me what is the difference between these?

    Many thanks
    In this case the meaning is the same. 'Didn't listen' may suggests that you told him just once, though not necessarily."Wouldn't listen' suggests you told him a number of times, but, yes, it could mean that you were referring to a single instance. So, yes, pretty such the same really. 'Would not' means he did not want to listen. 'Did not', well, you know what it means. No real difference, is there?


    And what does the Lord require of you but to love justice, to be merciful and to walk humbly with Him?
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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by nima_persian View Post


    Would you please show me what is the difference between these?
    The "difference" is in the "eye of the observer". There may be a small difference or it may be exactly the same (expressed in a different form of words).

    When people talk to each other they are not always careful if what they are saying is linguistically logical.

    Sometimes it may be (very) important to be exact in meaning but often it can be the mistakes in language that give it colour and life .

    Often it is the context that provides the meaning and so it may not be possible to know what is meant from a single sentence.

    Language is as much an art (maybe more so ) as a science.
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    flattened rat 甘肃人's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nima_persian View Post
    I told him he ought to be in school, but he wouldn't listen!

    I told him he ought to be in school, but he didn't listen!

    Would you please show me what is the difference between these?

    Many thanks
    Also it has to do with what the verb 'listen' entails. Consider:

    I told him he ought to have breakfast, but he wouldn't!

    I told him he ought t
    o have breakfast, but he didn't !

    Here the implied verb is 'eat'. it's not necessary to say it because it is understood. I told him he ought to have breakfast, but he wouldn't! means as in the case of 'wouldn't listen' that he did not want to. However, I told him he ought to have breakfast, but he didn't ! Can mean any number of things. Perhaps he had no time. Perhaps there was nothing to eat at home; perhaps he forgot or again he simply did not want to - he chose not to.
    And what does the Lord require of you but to love justice, to be merciful and to walk humbly with Him?
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  6. #5  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Didn't listen could mean that he was engaged in something else and missed what he was told.
    Wouldn't listen implies that he deliberately took no notice (whether he actually heard or not).

    "Wouldn't" therefore indicates that his "not listening" (or not taking note of what he heard) was wilful, "didn't" leaves it somewhat more open.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  7. #6  
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    This thread could be about Robittybob.

    I agree with Dywyddyr. Wouldn't listen implies a willful failure to listen. Didn't listen could also be used when the failure to listen is willful, but may also be used if it was due to carelessness.
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