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Which of the following sentences is grammatically correct?

  1. The music for which we heard last night at the concert was exceptionally good.

  2. The music to which we listened at the concert last night was exceptionally good.

  3. The music which we listened last night at the concert was exceptionally good.
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Music is generally listened to. We listen for things we are expecting -- the doorbell, the phone, the tornado sirens.

The music to which we listened at the concert last night was exceptionally good.

This is the best choice, although it is clunky. That being said, my suggested alternative is:

The music we heard at the concert last night was exceptionally good.

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2  
And I'd suggest directly "Last night's concert was exceptionally good". In context, all concerts have music and all music must be heard to be enjoyed. –  BellevueBob Jun 20 '12 at 14:49
    
@BobDuell There's truth in that, but it's reasonable to make clear that what you liked about the concert was the music itself, and not something else about the event. It would be quite plausible to say that the building where the concert was held was beautiful, or that you enjoyed spending time with your friends regardless of the quality of the music. –  Jay Jun 20 '12 at 15:26
    
Not that there’s anything wrong with saying that the music we listened to last night was good. That “to which we listened” stuff is pretty silly, if you ask me. –  tchrist Aug 10 '13 at 17:31

Only the second sentence is correct, although it would be much more natural to express the same as

The music (which) we listened to at the concert last night was exceptionally good,

where the relative pronoun would be normally dropped in spoken language and could be preserved, or replaced by that, if you wrote the sentence.

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Number 2 is grammatically correct, though somewhat awkward. Constructions like "to which" are sometimes used to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. It's more common to simply say, "The music we listened to at the concert last night was exceptionally good."

Number 1 is wrong because "heard" does not take a preposition. You could say, "We heard the music", but you DON'T say, "We heard for the music."

Number 3 is wrong because "listened" DOES require a preposition. You say, "We listened to the music", NOT "We listened the music."

(As to why "listened" requires a preposition but "heard" does not ... I think that's just a rule you have to learn word by word.)

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2  
Parallel with see and look at. –  Colin Fine Jul 4 '12 at 23:09
    
Is parallel also 'speak' and 'talk about'? @Colin Fine –  user19148 Jul 4 '12 at 23:23
    
It's parallel insofar as speak is transitive but talk is not usually; but semantically it's nor really similar. In hear/listen to and see/look at each pair can take the same object, and differ only in intention. But speak and talk about are both intentional, but speak takes the utterance as its object, while talk about has the subject of the utterance. –  Colin Fine Jul 5 '12 at 16:06

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