The next word in our vocabulary boost series is PLAY. PLAY is a high frequency verb that can be used as a synonym of pretend, behave, compete or participate in. There are numerous collocations and phrasal verbs that are formed using PLAY.


As recommended in our START method (HERE), you should always learn vocabulary as a short phrase and relate new words to synonyms and use them. Click (HERE) and (HERE) for advice on how to learn more vocabulary and HERE for an example of a great strategy to learn new words.



To learn new collocations and word patterns you should create phrases using them and also do exercises (HERE)

Play for a team

Play inside

Play outside

Play with someone

Play well

Play badly

Play an instrument

Play the piano

Play the flute

Play the guitar

Play tennis

Play rugby

Play badminton

Play football

Play for fun

Play a board game

Play in a group

Spend time at play

To stop play


Phrasal verbs:

The learning of phrasal verbs is best done using this method (HERE)

Play up – misbehave

The kids are playing up at the minute

Play up – exaggerate

My sister always plays up her troubles at work

Play away – have an affair

I fear my boyfriend is playing away

Play out – end in a certain way

Aston Villa and Albacete played out a draw last week

Play against – compete

Aston Villa play against Wolves this weekend

Play along – pretend to agree to something for the common good

At work, I just play along and do as the boss asks

Play at – pretend to do something

I was playing at revising for my exam, but I was really on YouTube

Play down – make something seem less important than it is

I played down my injury because I wanted to continue



To learn how to use PLAY you need to practice and put these words and collocations into your own words to be able to remember them.

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