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Here are excerpts from New York Post:

The White Plains CPA’s whining began as soon as he trudged into the lower Manhattan courthouse on July 30, grousing to anyone who would listen how little time he had for public service, a court source said. (New York Post)

Murphy previously stated he would listen to what Rodgers has to say, but that No. 12 would not be “part of the process.” (New York Post)

Can you add 'to' in the first quote and omit 'to' in the second?

...listen to how little time he had for public service...

...listen what Rodgers has to say...

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These two sentences have a significant difference that accounts for the absence or presence of "to" following "listen".

In the first sentence, "listen" is part of the phrase "grousing to anyone who would listen". This means that the man was complaining to any person who would allow him to speak. The next phrase "how little time he had" is simply the topic of his complaints; the phrase follows "listen" only because of the structure of the sentence. The sentence could be rephrased like this:

He complained to anyone who would listen, and he complained about how little time he had.

In the second sentence, "what Rodgers has to say" is actually the thing that Murphy would listen to. Therefore, the preposition "to" is required.

So no, you can neither use "to" in the first sentence nor omit it in the second. These are two sentences with different structures rather than examples of different rules in the same structure.

  • Is how little time he had for public service a complement of the verb grousing? I mean, can you leave out to anyone who would listen and say grousing how little time he had for public service? – listeneva Jan 16 at 21:22
  • @listeneva Yes, you are correct. The sentence is a bit complicated, so a simpler example would be "He walked into the room complaining how much work he had to do." – Tashus Jan 16 at 21:29

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