FR: play <instrument> / play <music> on <instrument>

Sam302

Senior Member
American English
Bonjour,
I'm having sudden doubts about the use of prepositions/articles with instruments if we move from general to more particular statements.

Examples:
I play guitar. -- General statement
Je joue de la guitar.

I can play this song on the guitar. -- General statement
Je sais jouer ce morceau à la guitar.

I was playing the new guitar. -- Particular statement
Je jouais la nouvelle guitare. ??

This song sounded better on the new guitar.
> Ce morceau sonnait mieux sur la nouvelle guitare. ??

Merci beaucoup d'avance
 
  • iuytr

    Senior Member
    French - France
    Perfect,

    I was playing the new guitar. -- Particular statement
    Je jouais la nouvelle guitare. ??
    This one is fully correct but high register almost literary or should i say pretentious. In current langage , you will find more often : je jouais sur la nouvelle guitare.

    Edit : You could use this form in classical music for an exceptional instrument
    Ex :Ou qui persuada Salvatore Accardo de jouer le Stradivarius «Hart» jusqu’ici en possession de Zino Francescatti
    là je viens de passer des jours et des jours a jouer le Steinway du concours et je le trouve excellent.
     
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    Sam302

    Senior Member
    American English
    Very interesting, what this tells me is that in French the instrument can rarely be a direct object. If there is a direct object, it is the piece of music that one is playing -- not the instrument. With the exceptional case that you have provided.
    Merci beaucoup pour ces précisions

    Ok I have a follow-up question, just to be sure that this is in fact a consistant rule...
    So if I want to use a possessive, again for a particular purpose:
    I was playing my new guitar.
    In standard speech I would have to say:
    Je jouais sur ma nouvelle guitar.
    C'est ça?
     
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    Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    Je joue de la guitare.
    Je sais jouer ce morceau à la guitare.
    Je jouais sur ma nouvelle guitare.
    :thumbsup:

    Je jouais la nouvelle guitare. ??
    :thumbsdown: This sounds really odd.

    Ce morceau sonnait mieux sur la nouvelle guitare. ??
    Preposition sur is OK, but you could also say, Ce morceau sonnait mieux avec la nouvelle guitare.


    Moderator note: The discussion about the article in English has been moved to the relevant thread EN: play (the) + instrument.
     
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