"I like listening to music" and "I like to listen to music" - is there any difference?



When speaking about my hobby, should I say:

  1. I like listening to music.
  2. I like to listen to music.

Do both mean the same? Is any of these sentences grammatically incorrect?


Posted 2015-07-13T15:24:53.110

Reputation: 321



In short: there is almost no difference when using them in that sentence, and both are grammatical and common.

In general, the "Xing" form is slightly more casual whereas the "to X" form is a bit more abstract. In the form "I like..." it's essentially the same, but the difference becomes a lot clearer when you use it as a subject:

Listening to music is the best hobby


To listen to music is the best hobby

The first sounds like you are speaking from personal experience, whereas the second sounds more like you are making a philosophical or poetic statement.

Slightly beyond the scope of your question, but one last thing to note is that there are some verbs that require one form or the other, and that will overrule any other consideration:

I enjoy listening to music [correct]

I enjoy to listen to music [wrong]


I want to listen to music [correct]

I want listening to music [wrong]


Posted 2015-07-13T15:24:53.110

Reputation: 592

What are those verbs that have a particular requirement I mean besides the mentioned want and enjoy. Intuitively it seems to be somehow linked with the process vs fact thing i.e. like is ok with both process and fact but enjoy only makes sense with a process and want does only fit some fact. – Zverev Evgeniy – 2016-11-24T15:53:10.197


The Oxford Guide to English Grammar by John Eastwood says in section 121.2: Some verbs can take either a to-infinitive or a gerund with almost no difference. Eastwood has the following list:

like love perfer hate

begin commence start continue cease

intend propose

can't bear

bother (I don't bother washing up/to wash up.)

He has some minor annotations to some of these verbs which I don't think very important.


Posted 2015-07-13T15:24:53.110

Reputation: 8 304