Sunday, January 13, 2013

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-skiing karate Man Playing Tennis Clipart
Go skiing Do karate Play tennis

There are three verbs that collocate with sports and other free time activities: go, do 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:
Go Do Play
riding aerobics badminton
jogging gymnastics table-tennis
hitch-hiking taekwondo football
fishing judo basketball
sailing karate chess
windsurfing kung-fu cricket
skiing ballet board games
snowboarding exercise snooker
swimming yoga hockey
dancing athletics baseball
skating archery rugby
cycling a crossword puzzle volleyball
running tai chi squash

Some exceptions to the rules:
  • You use do with three activities that end in -ing: do 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
Image

Now try doing these exercises:

44 comments:

  1. Perfect explanation, as usual!
    X

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a great Blog. Congratulations. I hope you don`t mind if I use some of your posts with my students. By the way, I offer you my blog http://enjoy-learningenglish.blogspot.com.es/It's not as good as yours but it's the best I am able to do, Thanks a lot.
    Joan Rubies

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm so very honoured that you have decided to use my blog posts with your students. Please, feel free to do so. I've been having a look at your blog and I think it's very good and helpful for English learners. I've subscribed to it.
    Best regards!
    Inma

    ReplyDelete
  4. this is a very good explanation..!! thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Celine. I'm glad you liked it! Cheers from Spain!

      Delete
  5. Thank you very much. It's a great one. May I use it with my students?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Please, do use it with your students! Thank you for your kind comment. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for such a clear explanation! I use your resources with my students and they find them very helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so happy that this blog can be of help to students of English! Thank you for visiting! Cheers!

      Delete
  8. Thank you for share your knowledge. I can know many kind of effective tips from here. I really like this blog.
    Thanks
    Bahesty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Bahesty! I'm so glad you find it useful!

      Delete
  9. Wow..how nice. I really like it. This site is very effective for us.
    Thanks for your great content.
    Akash

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wonderful post. I think this post is very effective for anyone. I want to try it personally.
    Thanks
    Rajesh Sarkar

    ReplyDelete
  11. THANK YOU FOR FOR YOUR EXPLANATION.
    RG

    ReplyDelete
  12. So clearly explained! Thanks!

    Cheers from Catalonia...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting. Cheers from Andalucía!

      Delete
  13. How a bout "fencing"?
    Thanks in advance.

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    Replies
    1. "Fencing", like "boxing" or "body-building" shouldn't be used with "go" for the reasons given above: they don't imply moving along. Another word ending in -ing that doesn't collocate with "go" is "weight-training".
      Cheers!

      Delete
  14. Very nicely done especially considering you are a non-native speaker, I'd like to use it for my Chinese students. Nb. In the table 'exercise' is spelled wrong.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for mentioning the typo. You are welcome to use the information with your students. Greetings from Spain!

      Delete
  15. What about boxing and weightlifting?

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  16. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I believe you're a wonderful teacher. I wish I had one like you :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you will find a good teacher! Thank you very much for your kind comment! Cheers!

      Delete
  17. Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting, Tatiana! Cheers!

      Delete
  18. Very interesting and helpful information. You can also add: do weightlifting as an exception to the rule with the verb 'go'

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    Replies
    1. That's right, Jei, I will add it. Thank you ery much for reminding me. Cheers!

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  19. What do we do for .... ' a lot of swimming and a lot of reading '?

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    Replies
    1. Hello! in these cases we should use "do". Examples:
      "I do a lot of swimmning, both in the sea and in the pool"
      "I have a lot of reading to do".
      Thanks for your comment!
      Cheers!

      Delete
  20. what about bungee-jumping?

    ReplyDelete

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