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Omission of definite article with musical instruments

Is there any difference between the following sentences?

Can you play the guitar?
Can you play guitar?

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There is no difference! –  Joe Blow Jul 6 '11 at 22:18
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@Joe Blow, if you make that a bit more structured and organised (explaining it better, with examples and links maybe), you could post it as an answer. :) –  Alenanno Jul 6 '11 at 22:20
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marked as duplicate by kiamlaluno, Cerberus, Marthaª, Callithumpian, Robusto Jul 7 '11 at 2:35

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

2 Answers

Usually (I think), when there is a determiner the before a noun, we're talking about a specific thing referring to the noun (in this case a guitar). But this is a phraseological analysis and I don't think it's the case for this sentence … maybe there's no difference at all … anyway, it depends on the context.

P.S. Sorry for my English not really perfect ;)

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As mentioned in the other question mentioned above, omitting the article usually implies "play the __ part", e.g. in an orchestra, chamber group etc -- in other words it focusses on the actual music-making. Including the article refers more to the physical action/ability of playing.

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Not in my experience. Do you have examples? –  Neil Fein Jul 6 '11 at 23:34
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