Talking About Sports in English

Michael Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Do you like sports? Now that the weather is getting warmer, a lot of people are thinking of taking up a sport. In the USA, a lot of elementary school age kids play soccer and baseball. Adults play a variety of sports too. My sister runs and does yoga twice a week. She has also been practicing karate for more than 10 years. Do you golf? My mom golfs once a week. I like to sail, and sailing season is just starting.

There are a few ways in English that we talk about sports. How we talk about sports depends on which category the sport falls into.

First of all, there are sports which use a ball or puck. For example, baseball, tennis, badminton, hockey, soccer, etc… Note that golf & bowling are sports that use a ball, but these two sports are exceptions, and we will look at them in a moment.

For sports that use a ball, we use play:

  • Elementary school age kids play soccer and baseball.
  • I play tennis every Sunday.
  • My cousins like to play hockey.

The second category is sports that do not use a ball or puck. These include sports like judo, kendo, karate, yoga, etc.

For sports that do not use a ball or puck, we use practice or do:

  • I do yoga every day.
  • My sister has been practicing kendo since high school.
  • Can you do karate?

*Note that we do not use play for these sports:

  • I practice kendo on Sundays. Not, I play kendo on Sundays.

The third category is sports that are verbs. Such sports usually have “ing” at the end, like
fishing, golf, bowling, skiing, surfing, etc. For these sports, we use “go” + the sport, or just the verb itself like this:

  • I go fishing with my father on the weekends.
  • My mom swims very well.
  • When can we go skiing?
  • I tried to surf, but it was difficult.

Note that we do not use play for these sports:
• I like to go snowboarding. Not, I like to play snowboarding.

Finally, golf & bowling are the exceptions. Golf is a sport that uses a ball, but the word golf is also used as a verb. So we can say:

  • I play golf on Sunday – OR – I go golfing on Sundays – OR – I golf on Sundays
    ALL of these sentences are correct and only golf has this pattern.

Bowling is also a sport that uses a ball and is a verb. So we can say:

  • I go bowling on Sundays – OR – I bowl on Sundays
    Either of these is correct, and note we do not say, I play bowling.

So there you have it. When you are not studying English, what sports to you like to play?

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