Sunday, April 2, 2017

do, go, or play?

We all know the saying:

"Practice makes perfect."

Collocations: do, play or go with sports and other activities

In British English, you can "do sport". In American English you can "play sports".
A typical mistake Spanish speakers make is using the verb practise for sports:
*I love practising sport. This should be: I love sport.
*I usually practise sport every evening. This should be: I usually do sport every evening.
However, in American English you can use the verb practise or practice (as it is spelt there) to mean "to train": The team is practicing for tomorrow's competition.

When other words related to sports are used, we may use other verbs:
"What sports do you do?"
"I play tennis".
Observe these pictures:

downhill-skiingkarateMan Playing Tennis Clipart
Go skiingDo karatePlay tennis

There are three verbs that collocate with sports and other free time activities: godo and play, but they are not interchangeable:
  • Go is used with activities and sports that end in -ing. The verb go here implies that we go somewhere to practice this sport: go swimming.
  • Do is used with recreational activities and with individual, non-team sports or sports in which a ball is not used, like martial arts, for example: do a crossword puzzle, do athletics, do karate.
  • Play is generally used with team sports and those sports that need a ball or similar object (puck, disc, shuttlecock...). Also, those activities in which two people or teams compete against each other: play football, play poker, play chess.
In this table there is a list of sports and activities that collocate with these verbs:
skiingballetboard games
cyclinga crossword puzzlevolleyball
runningtai chisquash
Some exceptions to the rules:
  • You use do with three activities that end in -ingdo boxing, do body-building and do weight-lifting because they don't imply moving along as the other activities ending in -ing.
  • Golf: if there is an idea of competition, you use the verb play. However, you can say go golfing if you do it for pleasure: Tiger Woods plays golf. We'll go golfing at the weekend. 

Tiger Woods

Now try doing these exercises:

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