Word Choice: Heard vs. Herd
  • 2-minute read
  • 19th February 2021

Word Choice: Heard vs. Herd

The words ‘heard’ and ‘herd’ sound identical and look similar written down. But these words have different meanings, so you won’t want to confuse them in your writing. Find out how to use these words correctly with our simple guide below.

Heard (Past Participle)

‘Heard’ is the simple past tense and past participle form of the verb ‘hear’:

Have you heard the news today?

I heard thunder last night.

I have heard that dogs make good pets.

It is only ever used to describe a past instance of hearing something.

Herd (Relating to Groups of Animals)

‘Herd’ can be a collective noun or a verb. As a noun, it refers to a large group of animals of the same type. These can be domestic or wild animals:

That herd of cows belongs to the farmer.

There are herds of deer in the mountains.

Sometimes, people also use it to describe a group of humans. This usually has a negative sense, implying a lack of individual thought:

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Derek doesn’t think for himself; he just follows the herd.

As a verb, ‘herd’ usually means ‘make a group of animals move together’:

The cows need herding to the top pasture.

I must herd the sheep into the pen.

When used in reference to people, meanwhile, it usually implies moving them against their will or with difficulty. For instance:

The teacher tried to herd the students into class.

You may even have heard the idiom ‘like herding cats’. You can use this to describe the experience of trying to coordinate a group of people who are difficult to control!

Summary: Heard or Herd?

While these words are spelled similarly, they mean different things:

  • Heard is the past tense of ‘hear’.
  • Herd refers to a group of animals or the act of moving them.

Luckily, ‘heard’ contains the word ‘hear’, which should make it easy to remember that this word is connected to hearing. If you need any more help with your writing, though, why not give our free proofreading trial a go?

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