English is not my mother tongue. I once came across information that listening to music and listening to the music mean something different. Listening to the music would mean you put whole heart into it, which can be evident by dance, other similar behaviour like improvised accompaniment or changes in face expression. Is this true?

  • 1
    No, it is false; and only the context can clarify the difference between these sentence.
    – user19148
    Oct 14, 2012 at 19:16
  • 3
    Music is music but not any specific music; the music is specific music (exactly which specific music is determined by the context).
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 14, 2012 at 19:18
  • 3
    This is the strangest theory I have heard all month, hands down.
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 14, 2012 at 19:39
  • 1
    Doobie Brothers++ Oct 14, 2012 at 19:56
  • Related - listen to music or listen for music Oct 14, 2012 at 20:24

3 Answers 3


The only difference is the definite article ('the') which means the second sentence refers to some specific music.

For example, as you put your iPod headphones on you might say "I am going to listen to music", meaning no particular music.

If you were in a park, and hear a band playing in the distance you might say "I am going to listen to the music", meaning that specific music you can hear now.

Neither of them is necessarily accompanied by dancing or changes in expression.


"Listen to music" means listen to music in general. In other words, go find some songs, put them on your MP3 player, and listen to them.

"Listen to the music" means there is music playing now and you should listen to it. Not just vague music in general, but THE music that is playing now.

Listen to the radio is correct. Listen to radio is wrong.

  • How is this answering the original post? (Also, it is not wrong to say Listen to radio! - Listen to radio, it's more rewarding than TV with its brash and distracting moving images.)
    – Dan
    Oct 29, 2015 at 1:23
  • How is this not answering the original post? "the" is used to specify something.. The article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. Here, when we are talking about specific song/ music , we say Listen to the music. Oct 29, 2015 at 4:25

Listen to music is correct if you're going to tell someone but you're not doing it right now you can say I'm going to listen to the music.

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