My sentence is

He plays the piano & the violin.

Is it correct to say

He plays the piano & violin?

  • That's fine. But I would say either keep both articles or get rid of both. You can say He plays piano and violin. I'm sure someone will elaborate on this. – pazzo Dec 2 '14 at 3:57
  • The is both pretty optional and pretty overused in English. If you don't use it enough, you sound Russian. If you use it too much you sound pedantic. – Wayfaring Stranger Jan 1 '15 at 14:16
  • The question throws two issues into play. First: Is the definite article, the used (or omitted) differently when introducing (or not introducing) musical instruments as compared with ordinary (countable) nouns? That question has been raised (and addressed, however well so far), here. – Jim Reynolds Feb 2 '15 at 18:34
  • The second: Need we distribute articles evenly over two (or perhaps multiple) nouns when paired in conjunction or set in serial? The owl and pussycat shove off with an article each (plus honey, money, etc.). But had they been characters in a cloak and a dagger story, well--different story? The food and the drink? A game of a cat and a mouse? – Jim Reynolds Feb 2 '15 at 18:49
  • "He plays the piano and violin" would be appropriate if he plays them simultaneously, say by holding the violin tucked with his left shoulder and using his left hand to accompany himself on the piano. – Greg Lee Mar 4 '15 at 19:37

"He plays the piano." and "He plays piano." are both acceptable. However, a basic rule of style is to be consistent when choosing between two acceptable forms. So, I suggest either "He plays the piano and the violin." or "He plays piano and violin.", but not "He plays the piano and violin".

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  • 1
    There is no such rule. "the violin and piano" is simply the article being used with a conjunction of two nouns. – Greg Lee Mar 4 '15 at 19:40

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