Hello! How are you?
Most schools have just finished sports festivals and rugby matches are sparking excitement throughout the country, so today I want to share a quick grammar lesson about sports!
While sports are fun and easy to talk about, students of all ages and abilities sometimes are confused as to which verb to use - play, do, or go.
So, let's look at the differences!
We "play" most sports, and this is why usually I hear students use "play" when talking about any sport.
We especially use "play" when talking about team / group sports, or sports with special equipment or playing areas like arenas or courts.
Even if you do the sport alone, we still say "play" if it is possible to play with a partner or group.
For example, "I play soccer with my friends," "I play basketball" or "I play badminton, and I prefer singles."
"Do" is mostly used for sports usually not group sports.
These sports also usually don't need special equipment or big arenas. Sports that are hobbies also fall into this category.
Martial arts are a good example: "I used to do kickboxing."
Also maybe, "My sister did ballet when she was 6 years old" or "I do yoga every Saturday."
Finally, the last main verb for sports is "go" which is used for activities that use gerund form.
These are usually done individually or, even if they are done in a group, they are ranked or scored individually.
This is why golf can be used with both "play" and "go." (And because it is a gerund, never put "go + to" some sport!)
"I went golfing this weekend (/ I played golf this weekend.)" or "I go skiing in Niigata every December."
I will leave you with one last grammar note about sports - be careful of using the word "practice!"
"Practice" is usually used with serious athletes/ teams to prepare for an upcoming event.
So, if you are on a company team, you can say "I practice softball after work" or if you are talking about high school club activities,
"I practiced judo for 3 years when I was a student," but if it is not a competition and just a hobby now, we would say "I play softball sometimes" or "I do judo every so often."