"I stopped ten minutes to listen to them."
Translation:Je me suis arrêté pendant dix minutes pour les écouter.
I am having a lot of trouble with direct/indirect object. I literally just read through http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/indirectobjects.htm and based on that I absolutely cannot figure out why this isn't "leur ecouter".
It is simpler than it looks: verb "écouter" is directly transitive, unlike "listen to ".
"leur" is the indirect object for ils/elles: je leur parle (parler à quelqu'un = talk to someone)
"les" is the direct object for ils/elles: je les écoute (écouter quelqu'un = to listen to someone)
A French transitive verb has two characteristics. First, it is an action verb, expressing a doable activity like kick, want, paint, write, eat, clean, etc. Second, it must have a direct object or an indirect object, something or someone who receives the action of the verb.
A French intransitive verb has two characteristics. First, it is an action verb, expressing a doable activity like arrive, go, lie, sneeze, sit, die, etc. Second, unlike a transitive verb, it will not have an object receiving the action.
Some verbs, such as arrive, go, lie, laugh, sneeze, sit, and die, are always intransitive; it is impossible for a direct object to follow. Other action verbs, however, can be transitive or intransitive, depending on what follows in the sentence.
Hopefully with this overview of transitive and intransitive verbs + site surf's explanation one should be able to understand why it is les écouter
"arrêter" is required when there is a direct object: "arrête-moi si je parle trop vite !" (stop me if I am speaking too fast!).
"arrêter" is also used with de + infinitive: "il n'a pas arrêté de neiger depuis hier" (it has not stopped snowing since yesterday).
"s'arrêter" is intransitive (it has no object direct nor indirect), only adjuncts of place, time etc: "une voiture s'arrête à ma hauteur" (a car is pulling up alongside me) - "notre histoire ne s'arrête pas là" (this is not the end of our story).
Except the verb here is not just arrêter but s'arrêter.
Reflexive verbs use être for passé composé: https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/french/french-i/french-i-reflexive-verbs/reflexive-verbs-and-compound-tenses