I know that DL wants us to use PLAYED in this translation but could we use TOUCHED as well in this case? I have never touched a violin sounds good to me...
Sounds good, but . . . in Spanish "tocar" is the verb associated with playing a musicl instrument. A Spanish speaker is going to hear "played" here, not touched.
so how would a spanish speaker say "I have never touched a violin"? I guess it's the same, and what he would hear depends on the context.
You'd probably use emphasis to differentiate. Something like "I have never even touched a violin"
the definite article should be used in English in expressions with "play+the instrument"
Either would work, in my book. To me:
"I have never played the violin" suggests that I never learned to play it (though perhaps I tried it once or for a short while, but never learned it properly) - it would have the same meaning without "the"; meanwhile
"I have never played a violin" is more encompassing, meaning that at no time have I ever even tried playing any violin anywhere at any time.
I'm curious to understand if there is a distinction in the implications of the corresponding Spanish sentences, using "un", "el" or no article at all.
"Never have I played the violin." Marked wrong. Reported.
I think you can use the definite article here in a general sense. It is normal to say "I have never played the piano", for example
After hundreds of hours of study, I still don't understand why Duolingo suggests a definition when you hover over a word and then marks you wrong when you make a choice. Is it punishment for "peeking?"
The "definition" that pops up isn't intended to be complete, and context matters.