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What would be a natural sounding way to say something like return to [verb] i.e. "Return to listening to music" Would it be something like 「音楽を聴くことに戻る」 or 「音楽を聴きに戻る」or anything else like simple て-form?

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    This looks like two distinct questions, would you mind editing this to be two different posts? You'll find that by doing so you'll get specific and more useful answers.
    – ajsmart
    Jun 22 '20 at 13:25
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    I'm not even sure what "return to listening to music" means in English. Like, you stopped listening to music for an extended period of time, but now you listen to it again? Or do you mean in an "addictive" sense like someone "returning (turning back)" to alcohol as a coping mechanism? Like, "every time I get in a fight with my girlfriend, I return to listening to music in order to collect myself"?
    – istrasci
    Jun 22 '20 at 16:09
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    @istrasci "The phone rang. I answered it then went back to (returned to) listening to music" <-- This is how I would interpret the question, and I'd be interested to know the answer. Jun 22 '20 at 18:45
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    @schwarzemetalleisen I removed the second question and added it as a separate post here: Is it possible to use を with any intransitive motion verb like 戻る in the same fashion as「駅を出る」?.
    – jarmanso7
    Jun 22 '20 at 20:55
  • @istrasci I probably should have phrased the question differently, but I originally meant just generally going back to doing some activity after some time, whether it's resuming an activity (Starfox answered below) or you regress to some not so good state, however I am more curious about the latter. I.e. "after failing to talk to her in Japanese, he went back to speaking English," or "even after rehab he's gone back to drinking profusely" something like that. Jun 23 '20 at 1:02
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You said you are asking about "just generally going back", but it's difficult to answer this without a concrete situation.

音楽を聴きに戻る only means "to return (to the previous location) in order to listen to music". As you probably know, this verb + に + motion-verb construction refers to a spatial movement with a purpose. If you have been doing something else and need to walk at least for a few seconds to go back to the place where you were listening to the music, then this should be natural.

On the other hand, 音楽を聴くことに戻る (or simply 音楽に戻る/曲に戻る) usually simply means "to start listening to music again", and it does not involve a spatial movement. If you have been doing something else while you are sitting, this should be the correct choice.

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聴く is a very active verb, that it should be sufficient to use また to imply you are returning to what you were doing beforehand, and adding 始め reinforces it.

また音楽を聴き始めた

I'm going to start listening to music again

This may not work for passive verbs especially where you aren't the one taking action. If use of 聴く in that sentence isn't important, you could always use 再開 which would mean resuming, assuming it was clear that's what you were doing right before.

音楽を再開した

I resumed the music

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  • Minor point but you put the first example in the past tense and translated it in the present.
    – Casey
    Jun 23 '20 at 18:12
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It’s more natural and succinct to say

音楽を聞き直した

I listened to the music again.

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