learn a/the saxophone.

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Kross

Senior Member
Korean
Hello, all

I would love to learn the saxophone.
This is from my grammar exercise book. I'd like to ask why only the definite article, the, should be used here. The book says that when the + instrument is chosen as a combination, it refers to the entire class of instrument. From this viewpoint, the topic sentence sounds to me like the doer wants to learn all kinds of saxophones. Is my interpretation correct? If so, it looks weird because it would be almost impossible to do so. I think that it is more natural and logical to say, "I would love to learn a saxophone(I mean a kind of instrument)." Do you have any ideas?
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Well, I don't know how different saxophones are. If you learn the saxophone, then after that you can play saxophones - pick up any saxophone and play it. 'I want to learn a saxophone' would mean you want to learn one of the kinds: tenor saxophone, or bass saxophone, or descant saxophone (or whatever kinds they come in). After you make this decision, you learn to play (say) the tenor saxophone.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It's the way we normally speak about classes of objects.
    The giraffe is a mammal. (All giraffes are mammals.) I want to learn about the giraffe.
    Giraffes are mammals. (All giraffes are mammals.) I want to learn about giraffes.
    A giraffe is in my house. (Only one giraffe.) I want to learn about a giraffe (his name is Geoffry).
     
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