I would like to ask how to parse the following sentence.

I cook listening to music.

"I" is subject. "cook" is the main verb

Is "listening to music" is participle phrase? ( to music is also preposition phrase)

Does " listening" modify "I" so is it adjective or does it modify "cook" ?

  • 1
    Listening to music is an adjectival participle phrase acting as a 'secondary predicate'; see questions with the tag secondary-predicates. Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 12:10
  • It sounds as if "listening to music" is a special dish. I'd rephrase it to I cook and listen to music. or While I am listening to music I cook. Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 12:10
  • Yes, "I" is the subject and "to music" is a preposition phrase as complement of "listening". "Listening to music" is a gerund-participial clause modifying the matrix (main) verb phrase "cook". Functionally, "listening to music" can plausibly be analysed as a temporal adjunct, cf "I cook while I'm listening to music".
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 14:19

1 Answer 1


In the sentence, "while" is elided: "I cook while listening to music", which can be restructured as "while/when cooking, I listen to music" or "while/when I cook, I listen to music".

The restructuring "while/when listening to music, I cook" doesn't work very well since it implies that I cook whenever I listen to music. The "while/when" has to remain attached to "cook" if the meaning is to remain the same.

So it seems to me that "listening to music" is an adverbial phrase, since it expands (modifies, tells us more about) the verb "cook". It's also a participial phrase, but that seems inevitable (or at least I can't offhand think of a construction that wouldn't have a participle).

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