What is the difference between ''I often listen to the radio before I go to the bed'' and ''I often listen to radio before I go to the bed''?

Why is the second one not correct? It was marked as uncorrect in a Cambridge English excercise.

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    – ColleenV
    Aug 27, 2018 at 19:51
  • I can remove my answer no problem (I'm saying that up front). But the link shows a question that was not accepted by the OP as an answer. I am sure there is something I don't know going on in this type of situation. So....please explain it to me and I will remove this comment. Thank you. Nowhere did I see any mention of their being idiomatic.
    – Lambie
    Aug 27, 2018 at 22:05

2 Answers 2


The real answer is that they are simply idiomatic:

  • listen to the radio
  • watch TV or watch television

I often listen to music before I go to bed. I listen to music on the radio.

There really isn't any justification for it.


The word music in the second sentence is implied.

I often listen to radio [music] before I go to bed.

In English there are times you can omit a word because it is implied. For example:

Are you afraid you won’t get a job when you leave college?

The sentence above is technically incorrect, but there is an implied "that" - which makes the sentence OK:

Are you afraid [that] you won’t get a job when you leave college?

  • 2
    The word music is not at all implied in that sentence - the person could just as well be listening to talk radio or any other programming that isn't music. Regardless, it sounds very odd to say you "listen to radio", unlike dropping the "that" in your second example, which is totally natural. Aug 27, 2018 at 18:02
  • @NuclearWang Maybe but I disagree at least for informal converstaions; I think "I listen to radio" means they listen to radio [music]. If they say "I listen to the radio" then it's unspecified whether they listen to talk radio, music, etc. I should also note that radio is often referred to as a type/genre of music.
    – Othya
    Aug 27, 2018 at 18:12
  • One does "listen to mother or father" but one does not "listen to radio". It simply is not idiomatic.
    – Lambie
    Aug 27, 2018 at 22:09

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