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    • Join Date: Apr 2010
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    #1

    Play the piano and play on the piano

    Recently I have come across the following paragraphs in "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte:
    ‘I dare say you are clever, though,’ continued Bessie, by
    way of solace. ‘What can you do? Can you play on the piano?
    It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied
    with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will
    make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to
    a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt
    against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides
    political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which
    people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally:
    but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for
    their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their
    brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute
    a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is
    narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to
    say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings
    and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and
    embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or
    laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than
    custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.
    Why not play the piano? Does "on" change the meaning? Would you please point out the difference to me!


    • Join Date: Apr 2010
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    #2

    Smile Re: Play the piano and play on the piano

    Hello . Dear, actually I'm not sure about my answer but I feel free to put it here and if it wrong ,could I ask somebody correct it for me please ,

    I think that play on the piano , mean you are playing or gaming

    but the play the piano you are operation or start it

    as I said I'm not quite sure about that , but I want to help

    regards from KSA .


    • Join Date: Apr 2010
    • Posts: 3
    #3

    Re: Play the piano and play on the piano

    Thanks for trying to be helpful. But, in my opinion, your explanation might be a bit incorrect Let's wait for somebody else to give us a helping hand.
    A little update:
    I managed to find the following in the dictionary:
    Jean accompanied her on the piano.
    (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)

    On the Internet you can also find the phrases, which, when generalized, would look like this:
    to play smth(some piece of music) on the piano.

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Play the piano and play on the piano

    Quote Originally Posted by rama511 View Post
    Hello . Dear, actually I'm not sure about my answer but I feel free to put it here and if it wrong ,could I ask somebody correct it for me please ,

    I think that play on the piano , mean you are playing or gaming

    but the play the piano you are operation or start it

    as I said I'm not quite sure about that , but I want to help

    regards from KSA .
    Your idea is correct, but your English needs some work.


    • Join Date: Apr 2010
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    #5

    Re: Play the piano and play on the piano

    Thank you all. So, as far as I understood it, play the piano is used far more often and the usage of preposition "on" preceding "the piano" is marginalized?

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Play the piano and play on the piano

    Quote Originally Posted by hawklutz View Post
    Thank you all. So, as far as I understood it, play the piano is used far more often and the usage of preposition "on" preceding "the piano" is marginalized?
    "To play the piano" is much more common when you are talking about someone who actually makes music with that particular instrument.

    In the passive voice, however, "This piece of music is played on the piano", "It was written to be played on the piano", and (as you quoted) "She was accompanied on the piano by a good friend".


    • Join Date: Apr 2010
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    #7

    Re: Play the piano and play on the piano

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Your idea is correct, but your English needs some work.

    I am cheerful to hear that about my idea , but what should I do about my English , by the way that is the first post in English I put it.

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Play the piano and play on the piano

    Bear in mind that the text is old. 'Playing on an instrument' was a common expression then. Today, we say 'playing the piano'; in some parts of the world they even say 'playing piano' (That shortened form is starting to be heard in the UK, starting with popular music reports, I think: 'Paul used to play bass guitar with the Beatles'.) Language changes.

    b

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