Play up – English Phrasal Verb – Online English Lessons

1. If something is playing up, it’s not working as it should.

Examples of use:

a) Can you give me a lift to work tomorrow? My car is playing up.

b) I won’t be able to play tennis this afternoon; my arm has been playing up all week.

c) My television is playing up. The picture is all fuzzy and there’s no sound.

d) I need a new washing machine. This old one is playing up.

e) Did you get my text message? My phone was playing up yesterday and I think some of my texts didn’t get sent properly.

2. If someone, especially a child, plays up they behave badly or mischievously.

Examples of use:

a) The children have been playing up all day!

b) The children always play up when we visit their grandparents.

3. To play up something or someone (or play something or someone up) is to emphasize or exaggerate their importance.

Example of use:

The newspaper article played up the importance of George Bush’s influence on world affairs.

4. To play up to someone is to flatter them.

Example of use:

She’s desperate for promotion and she’s always playing up to our boss.

play up
present simple
play up and plays up
-ing form
playing up
past simple
played up
past participle
played up

Can you think of something you own that has played up?

Practise your English and write your own sentence(s) using this phrasal verb. You can leave a comment here, or email me with your sentence

Image © Mike Hammerton