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Mistakes will always be made in French, and now you can learn from them.
The verb écouter does not need a preposition to connect it to the next word. So when you're listening to the radio or anything else in French, you would not add a preposition, as you would in English:
- J'écoute la radio. > I'm listening to the radio.
- Il aime écouter les discours. > He likes listening to speeches.
- Écoutez la voix de la sagesse. > Listen to the voice of reason.
- Elle va te faire écouter un chanson. > She's going to play you a song.
Verbs and Prepositions: To Add or Not To Add
Many French verbs do need a preposition such as à or de-by far the most common-to connect them to the next verb and complete their meaning. It's this way in English, too; consider "to look at" and "to take care of." But many of the most common French verbs, such as aller, croire, faire, falloir, penser, pouvoir, sentir, savoir, venir, voir and vouloir, do not need a preposition at all and are usually in constructions that go directly from conjugated verb to infinitive or conjugated verb to direct object:
- no preposition + infinitive
- no preposition + direct object
The confusion arises for English-language speakers when the prepositions required for French verbs are not the same as the ones required by their English equivalents, or when some verbs that require a preposition in English don't take one in French, and vice versa.
Écouter Doesn't Need a Preposition
Écouter is one of those French verbs that are not followed by a preposition whereas their English equivalents are.
The explanation? The French verb écouter means "to listen to," which cancels the need to add another preposition. Beginners often mistakenly add à after écouter, in effect saying "to listen to to something." And that is a classic French learner's mistake.
Some French learners find it helpful to memorize lists of verbs by the prepositions they require, while others prefer a master list of alphabetized verbs.
How to Use French verbs with and without prepositions
List of correct prepositions that follow French verbs, if any
Most common French prepositions