Phrasal Verbs with 'play'

Play around/about = to behave in a silly way e.g. Stop playing around, you need to be serious about this.


Play up = to behave in a childish way e.g. The children are playing up so we need to leave right now.

Play around/about with something = to experiment with ways of doing something before making a decision e.g. We should play around with different concepts before showing them to the client.

Play along = to pretend to agree with someone e.g. I didn’t believe what he was saying but I just played along so I could leave early.

Play at something = to pretend to be someone as a game e.g. I remember when I was young I use to play at being an architect with my friends.

Play something back = to re-listen or re-watch e.g. I was talking on the phone can you play that bit back again because I missed it.

Play something down = to try to make people believe something is less important e.g. Even though she was promoted, she’s playing down her position.

Play someone off against someone = to try and gain an advantage by making two people/groups compete e.g. I think the best way to get a good deal is to play our competitors off with each other.

Play on something = to use someone’s weaknesses/fears to gain an advantage e.g. He plays on her insecurities of being alone and really treats her badly.

Played out = to happen e.g. You should have seen how the competition played out. It was so exciting.

Play up = to cause pain e.g. My knee is playing up again.

Play up something = to emphasise a quality too much e.g. I’m going to play up my work experience so that I can get the job.

Play up to someone = to behave in a way so as to make someone like you e.g. I hate the way he plays up to the boss just so that he can get a promotion.

Play with something = to consider an idea but to not do it e.g. I played with the idea of cycling around the world but I didn’t do it in the end.

Play with someone = pretend to love someone e.g. I have a feeling she doesn’t really care about him and that she’s just playing with him.

Play with something = keep moving something because of boredom e.g. Can you please stop playing with that pen and listen to what I’m saying?
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