1. Listen to the song and rejoice.
  2. The officer listened to the request of the farmers.
  3. He is still in the hang-over of the music he listened to yesterday.
  4. I was bored by listening to her story.
  5. Honourable audience, please listen to me!
  6. Boys do not listen to us when they come of age.
  7. This boy is very obstinate. He does not listen to anything.
  8. It is better to see in person rather than listen to others’ talk.
  9. The chief minister listened to the appeals of the public.
  10. We can understand why he is popular when we listen to the prime minster speaking.
  11. The baby went to sleep listening to his mother’s affectionate lullaby.

Above all sentences have "listen+to" and I have heard "listen+to" is the intransitive verb. All the above sentences are translated into our language (Kannada) then it becomes "transitive verb" with meaningful and correct sentences. If those sentences are translated as "intransitive verbs" then all sentences are incorrect and we get meaningless sentences. Here is my doubt. If the thought is same (in both native and non native speakers mind) then why these sentences differs from one another?

  • just the preposition "to" is transitive???
    – Nandy
    Oct 12, 2017 at 11:44
  • In "Listen to the song", it's not "listen to" that is transitive, but just the preposition "to". "Listen" is an intransitive verb.
    – BillJ
    Oct 12, 2017 at 11:44
  • Yes, but only if it has a noun phrase complement.
    – BillJ
    Oct 12, 2017 at 11:46
  • Actually in our language we use "to" and "for" for dative case. But here in this case it is used as accusataive case.(I was bored by listening to her story=I was bored by hearing her story). That is why I got confused.
    – Nandy
    Oct 12, 2017 at 11:46
  • 1
    In "Listen to the music", the noun phrase "the music" is object complement of "to", and hence "to" is said to be transitive here.
    – BillJ
    Oct 12, 2017 at 12:10

1 Answer 1


In English we say that we listen to something; in some other languages you can just "listen something", using a verb similar to "listen" transitively without a preposition. Why is this any great surprise, though? Some languages have articles, some don't. Some generally put attributive adjectives before the nouns, others after, others vary. Some have fairly free word order, some fairly fixed word order. Some have grammatical gender and complex case systems. Some have tense, some don't. Languages can't all be expected to represent the same thoughts in exactly parallel ways.

  • True. In my native language (Malay),listen is transitive (mendengar [listen] lagu [song]). We also don't have articles (though we have determiners). And we put a modifier after the head noun (rumah [house] besar [big]). Oct 12, 2017 at 9:24
  • Someone told me "listen" is intransitive; "listen to" is transitive.Is it correct?
    – Nandy
    Oct 12, 2017 at 11:04
  • 1
    Yes, in a sense. Traditionally the notion of transitivity was applied to verbs and not to prepositions, but now it is sometimes applied to prepositions too. In any case, that's a good way of thinking of it.
    – rjpond
    Oct 12, 2017 at 13:39

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