"Can you play piano?"
Translation:Ты умеешь играть на пианино?
Yes, if a grand piano is implied.
- piano is фортепиа́но (a generic term for different kinds of pianos),
- пиани́но is a vertical piano,
- and роя́ль is a grand piano.
Роя́ль and пиани́но from Wikipedia (both are types of фортепиа́но):
However, many people don't use the word 'фортепиано' and use 'пианино' as the default term for all kind of pianos, because 'пианино' is the most common type of pianos.
Undefinable? Or indeclinable? :)
Yes (sarcasm rating a 0 on the Richter scale) - they used indeclinable words before with такси, кофе и метро, and it was good that they did so; in fact in the first lessons, Мой багаж уже в такси / метро was easy to learn because of the use of indeclinable nouns. If I had had to learn about prepositional case right away, I might have gotten overwhelmed - my focus was on vocabulary and palatalization at that time. So if you like, indeclinable nouns are a boon to learners.
Moreover, both declining and indeclining nouns are part of this complex language we are learning. And anyway, in every language there will be exceptions like these indeclinable words. I think the contrast of играть на гитаре and играть на пианино used within the same unit lesson on Duo helps illustrate the caveat to learners very nicely.
There are resources to use in tandem with Duolingo to grasp the cases. Let me know if you would like links to some of my preferred sources - I would be glad to share these.
Would a better translation be "Do you know how to play the piano?" I thought "играешь" would work for this sentence, but "играть" is apparently correct. I thought that the "умеете" is responsible somehow for changing the way we have to conjugate the word for "play." Or am I way off?
I think that “Do you know how to play the piano?” is a clearer translation of the Russian sentence Вы умеете играть на пианино (alternatively phrased Ты умеешь играть на пианино). In English, we use “can” to mean knowledge/learned ability (уметь), as well as possibility (мочь), and even as a polite request. (It would not be unheard of for a person I know to be asked, “Can you play piano?” and the implication of the sentence in its context would be for her to consider playing piano for church on a Sunday.) So to answer your first question - yes.
By phrasing it as, “Do you know how to play the piano,” it is also easier to answer your second question. So conjugate the first verb, уметь, into умеете/умеешь and get a (sort of) phrasal verb “know how.” Then in both English and Russian, leave играть in its infinitive form (“to play”). So only the first verb has to be conjugated.
«Ты играешь на пианино?» means 'Are you playing piano?' or 'Do you play piano?', not 'Can you play piano?'.
Of course, those sentences are mostly interchangeable, because people don't usually play piano when they can't play it... but sometimes they do. xD
It should. Next time you get this sentence, consider using the Report button with ‘My answer should be accepted’ option.
Пиани́но ‘upright piano’ is a type of фортепиа́но ‘piano’. Another type is роя́ль ‘grand piano’.
In English, it’s common to say ‘piano’ without specifying its type. In Russian, it’s more common to say пиани́но or роя́ль, and фортепиа́но is a less common word (but it should be accepted, too, of course).