hear from


Senior Member
Chinese - China
I called Gao Yan that evening. He was happy to hear from me, and we had a good conversation.

(from an English textbook for junior high school students in China, co-published by DC Canada Education Publishing and Hebei Education Press)

I think ‘to hear from’ means ‘to receive a letter from’. But in this example, ‘to hear from’ means ‘to get a phone call from’. I wonder if this usage is correct and common.

Many thanks in advance.
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    I think ‘to hear from’ means ‘to receive a letter from’.
    That was the original meaning before telephones had been invented - now "to hear from" means "to receive some sort of communication from", e.g., a phone call, an email, a text message, and, still, a letter.



    Senior Member
    Would these two be equally natural?

    A: How is Tom?
    B: Well, I heard from him yesterday. He is moving to New York.

    A: How is Tom?
    B: Well, he called me yesterday. He is moving to New York.


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Yes, they are both natural, and equally natural.

    With "called me" we know Tom used a voice telephone. With "heard from" we don't know: voice telephone, text message, email, postal mail...what is is there? A post on your facebook page?


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I just asked after watching a lesson on 'hear from', where a BE speaker said that for him 'hear from' means 'call'
    He says no such thing. He simply gives a phone call as an example. But in that attachment he gives the same definition as I gave in #2: to receive news from someone.
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