'play (the) pianos' or 'play the piano'

seekenglish

Senior Member
China-Chinese
Hi, everyone. I have met a question here.
Lily is playing the piano in the music room now. And so is Lucy at the same time.
Can I say 'Lily and Lucy are playing (the) pianos in the music room now.'?
Or I must say 'Lily and Lucy are playing the piano in the music room now.'
Thanks in advance.
 
  • variegatedfoliage

    Senior Member
    English - US
    If there are two pianos, I'd say, "they are playing the pianos," (both of the two pianos) but if there are more than two, I'd say, "they are playing pianos," (two of the three or more pianos). But you really could get away with either one in either case.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    In that case it is best to say pianos, otherwise it is not clear.
    (Alternatively, you could say a piano. But even this is not clear, so you would have to say both playing a piano.)
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Or, Lily and Lucy are each playing a piano.
    Yes, I agree with this and disagree with e2efour in this case.

    They are both playing a piano. Two people are playing one piano.

    They are each playing a piano. Two people are playing two pianos.*


    _______________________________________________________________
    * (Two people in the context of this thread. It could be more.)
     
    Last edited:

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I agree that the use of each makes it clear that two pianos are involved.
    But if I heard the sentence They are both playing a piano, I think it would be more likely to mean two pianos than one. In other words, it is still ambiguous.
     
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