‘Heard’ vs ‘Herd’ vs ‘Hurd’: What’s the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on March 13, 2023

You’ve probably seen or heard the words ‘heard,’ ‘herd,’ and ‘hurd,’ and wondered what they all mean. And what the difference is between them. We’ll answer that below, plus teach you how to use the correct ones in a sentence.

Need a quick answer? Here’s the difference:

  • ‘Heard’ is the past tense of the verb ‘hear,’ which means to perceive sound or listen.
  • ‘Herd’ is a noun that refers to a large group of people or animals. It can also be used as a verb to mean to gather into a group or to move as a group.
  • ‘Hurd’ is not a recognized word in the English language. Therefore, you should avoid using it.

Both ‘heard’ and ‘herd’ are homophones, which means they sound the same but are spelled differently and mean different things.

‘Heard’ and ‘Herd’ – Commonly Confused Words

The words ‘heard’ and ‘herd’ are often mixed up, and it’s easy to see why. The words are homophones, which means they sound exactly the same when spoken aloud.

However, when you see them written down on paper, you realize they’re two different words.

And they have two different meanings.

The former is the past tense of the verb ‘hear,’ and it means having perceived a sound.

The latter can be a verb or a noun. As a verb, it means to group together or move as a group. As a noun, it means a group of people or animals.

‘Heard’ or ‘Herd’ – What’s the Difference? 

As you just learned, there’s a difference between ‘heard’ and ‘herd’ when it comes to the definition.

These homophones might sound the same, but they mean different things.

Use ‘heard’ when you’re talking about sounds, such as someone speaking or music.

For example, you might say:

‘I heard the new Rihanna song yesterday. I really like it, so I listened to it all night.’

Definition of ‘Heard’: What Does ‘Heard’ Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘heard’ as:

  • The past tense of hear.

The definition of ‘hear’ is:

  • To perceive or become aware of by the ear.

It also means:

  • To gain knowledge of by hearing
  • To listen to with attention (heed)
  • Attend
  • To give listening to legal arguments (to give a legal hearing to)
  • To take testimony from
  • To be able to become aware of a sound
  • To gain information (learn)
  • To entertain the idea
  • Often used in the expression Hear! Hear! to express approval (such as during a speech)

Definition of ‘Herd’: What Does ‘Herd’ Mean? 

The same dictionary defines ‘herd’ as:

  • A typically large group of animals of one kind kept together under human control.

It also means:

  • A congregation of gregarious wild animals
  • A group of people usually having a common bond
  • A large assemblage of like things
  • The undistinguished masses (crowd)
  • To gather, lead, or drive as if in a herd
  • To keep or move (animals) together
  • To place in a group
  • To assemble or move in a herd
  • To place one
  • self in a group (associate)

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Heard’ and ‘Herd’

Are you curious about how to pronounce these words? Here’s a short guide.

To pronounce these words correctly, here’s the phonetic spelling:


How to Use ‘Heard’ and ‘Herd’ in a Sentence

Now that we know what both words mean and how to pronounce them, let’s see how to use them in a sentence so you can form your own.


  • I heard that you were having an event here in a few weeks. Do you need any help? Because I have a few guys that are looking for work.
  • What are you doing sneaking into the house at this time of night? I knew I heard a strange noise coming from the basement.
  • Wait, I heard that Yasmin was going to Stanford. Did she change her mind and decide to go to Princeton instead?
  • We all heard different things about the new foreign exchange student. But none of us really knew her as a person. That’s why I wanted to go introduce myself, so she has someone to talk to.
  • I heard about another train derailment today. I can’t believe how many times it’s happened all over the country in such a short amount of time. What’s going on?


  • There was a herd of cows all over the grass as we drove by the local farm. They look really happy roaming the fields.
  • I had to herd the kindergarten students back inside after recess. They were a little too rowdy, so we had to do our ‘quiet down’ exercise before going back into my classroom.
  • The herd of people on the lawn made me want to go back into my dorm room. I don’t like huge crowds because they always make me anxious.
  • There’s a herd of people running across campus. What’s going on? Maybe we should go out there and see what’s happening.

Final Advice on ‘Heard’ vs. ‘Herd’ vs. ‘Hurd’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘Heard’ is the past tense of the verb ‘hear,’ which means to perceive sound or listen.
  • ‘Herd’ is a noun, and it means a large group of people or animals. It could also be used as a verb to mean to gather into or move as a group.
  • ‘Hurd’ is not a word used in the English language. That’s why you should avoid using it in your writing and speech.

The words ‘heard’ and ‘herd’ are homophones. They sound the same, but they’re spelled differently and have different meanings.

If you ever get stuck on usage or meaning, you can always come back to review what you learned. We’ve also got a ton of other content on other confusing words you might see on your journey to learning English. Feel free to go check it out anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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