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Hi,

I can't quite figure out what is the real difference between the prepositions on and with when they are used to talk about using something.

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary tells the following:

on = by means of sth; using sth

"She played a tune on her guitar"

with = using sth

"Cut it with a knife"

So are they synonymys, kind of?

"She played a tune on her guitar" vs "She played a tune with her guitar"
"Cut it with a knife" vs "Cut it on a knife"

Thanks
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EagerSeekeron = by means of sth; using sth

"She played a tune on her guitar"
Hmm. I'd say the verb play takes precedence here. play takes the preposition on when you name a musical instrument.

play ( [a tune / a melody / a few notes / ... ] ) on a [guitar / piano / clarinet / flute / trombone / violin / ...]

CJ
Comments  
cut on a knife = unintentionally, usually describing an accident

cut with a knife = intentionally (mostly)

on/with a guitar= seem to be virtually synonymous
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Old Man Gordoncut on a knife = unintentionally, usually describing an accident

cut with a knife = intentionally (mostly)

on/with a guitar= seem to be virtually synonymous

Thank you Old Man Gordon, that was exactly what I wanted to know.
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
CalifJim
EagerSeekeron = by means of sth; using sth

"She played a tune on her guitar"
Hmm. I'd say the verb play takes precedence here. play takes the preposition on when you name a musical instrument.

play ( [a tune / a melody / a few notes / ... ] ) on a [guitar / piano / clarinet / flute / trombone / violin / ...]

CJ
Yep, my Oxford dictionary suggests the same thing with the play verb.
But how about "Navigation on instruments vs Navigation with instruments"?
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EagerSeekerNavigation on instruments
Not this one! I don't think navigation is ever done ona (musical) instrument! Emotion: smile

I'd say with or by.

CJ