Advanced English Grammar



Phrasal verb PLAY

The phrasal verb play can be found below along with an exercise for you to check your understanding. I recommend looking over the list then doing the exercise to check your knowledge.

PLAY ALONG = pretend that something is funny or serious to keep happy or fool someone; joke

John played along with Jill when she said the exam was moved forward one day. Their friends got a little upset until they discovered that John and Jill were joking.

PLAY AROUND = being or acting silly

The children were playing around until one of them got hurt accidentally.

PLAY AT = pretend to be something or someone

John just played at painting, he never really got serious about it.

PLAY BACK = listen (or watch) something recorded

Play back the segment we recorded yesterday.

PLAY DOWN = try to make something seem less important or unimportant

He played down the fact that he had lost all his money in the stock market.

PLAY OFF = A. a game to decide the winner of a tie B. make people compete against each other for your benefit

A. The play off game between the bitter rivals was sold out.
B. Successful politicians make their rivals play off each other.

PLAY ON = A. continue playing B. exploit someone's weakness C. pun

A. They played on after it got dark even though they couldn't see the ball.
B. The factory owner played on his employee's fear of losing their jobs.
C. No, it's just a play on words. It doesn't really mean that.

PLAY OUT = A. see through till the end B. end

A. He was determined to play it out until the end, no matter the cost.
B. Things didn't play out the way he planned so he went home.

PLAY UP = A. behave badly B. exaggerate C. (to) flattery

A. The children are playing up again!
B. He played up the mistake to make it seem worse than what it was.
C. She played up to her boss to get a raise.

PLAY UPON = exploit a weakness

The enemy played upon our lack of heavy weapons to defeat us.

PLAY WITH = A. fiddle with something in your hands B. not eat a meal C. tease

A. In Greece, many men play with a 'Koboloi' all day long.
B. She just played with her meal again. She didn't eat much at all.
C. John was just playing with Jill, he didn't mean to cause any harm.


Phrasal verb PLAY Exercise

Choose from the drop down menu the preposition(s) that best complete the phrasal verbs below.

1. If you play ___ your boss's ego, you should get the raise.
2. Play ____ with me. I am going to trick Janice.
3. They couldn't play _____ the music because there was too much noise.
4. He ____ his involvement in the crime as if he didn't do it.
5. She played ____ his feelings of guilt and made him take her out.
6. Why play ____ being a lawyer? You school really go to law school.
7. Mother told us to play ____ as she wasn't ready for us to come in yet.
8. He played ____ her innocence and told her many lies.
9. She played ____ her hair incessantly as a child.
10. He played ___ the fact that she was from out of town to cheat her.
 Your score is  

For more information about the phrasal verb play click on the preceding link.