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For Students: Sports and Games

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Are you a fan* of sports ? Are you more of a fan* of games ? At some point in our lives we have all played games, from when we were children and playing playground games like 'hit' and 'kiss chase" in school to playing board games like monopoly or snakes and ladders. But, if you had to explain the rules of snakes and ladders, or any simple board game in English, could you?

I'm sure you know when we talk about rules we have to use have to and we use the zero conditional to explain the rules, for example if you roll a 6, you have another go. This is the key language needed when explaining how to play games, and giving instructions, but we also need some key phrases and collocations to explain board and card games


roll the dice - when you 'throw' a cube with numbers on - in the picture above

move the counter - the counter is the piece of plastic/metal that is you in the game

if you land on X then you have to Y - board games usually have squares, after you roll the dice you, you move your counter and land on a new square

Put down a card - when you put a card face up so everyone can see

Take a card - in some games, when you land on a square, you have to take a card

To shuffle the cards - this is to 'mix' the cards up before you give them to the players

To deal the cards - to give cards to each player in the game equally

As people get older they often move away from playing games, but there are adult games too such as drinking games, and, err.... strip poker.... but games can be fun and bring out different emotions in us. Healthy for the mind no doubt, however you'd have to move to playing or doing sport for that physical workout and to sweat a bit.

They say English is the international language of the world, but they also say football is too. In England one of the best ways to start a conversation with a man is usually about football. There are lots of useful verbs in sport and football that we also use in our everyday life like run, kick, pass, hit, and score. Let's have a look at three other popular sports and see what the main 3 verbs are.

Tennis: hit, serve, return

Basketball: bounce, pass, throw.

Boxing: punch, dodge, move

Again if we think about the rules of sport, we go back to using HAVE TO and if you X then you 'have to' Y

Another thing that is important when talking about sport is being able to explain what happened and what the score was or is. Remember these simple phrases, and they will help you give clear information, not only in sport and games, but all kind of competitions.

X beat Y (score) - Sally beat James 2 - 1 at table tennis. (common mistake for Ukrainians is James WON James 2 - 1)

It was a draw - when the scores are equal – Poland played Italy and it was a draw.

X played / are playing Y – Poland played Italy - Poland are playing Italy tomorrow

X knocked out Y in the first round- when the team or person is no longer in the competition - We had a table tennis competition are work, but I was knocked out by James * note this phrase is often used in the passive as X was knocked out by Y

X are through to the next round - This is the opposite to the above - James is through to the next round and is going to play Tim

Talking of scores, in English the number zero is always pronounced as nil, so 1 - 0 is spoken as one - nil. We always say the higher number first even if the team who won is away, so England beat Poland 5 - 2 even if England played in Poland. When we talk about draws 0 – 0 is nil, nil and then after we say 1-1 one all 2-2 two all and so on

Sport is everywhere nowadays. Flick through the channels on your TV and I'm sure you'll find some form of sport on. But it's also in English too. By that I mean we have some commonly used idioms connected to sport which we use for everyday use as well as in business. Take a look at 6 sport idioms you can next take into your business meeting

1 The ball is in your court(tennis) - it's time for you to make a decision

We made the company a very good offers, the ball is now in their court now

2. Ballpark figure(baseball) - to give an estimated guess of a number or price

We don't know exactly, but the accountant gave us a ballpark figure of about 2 million

3.Stay ahead of the game (sport) – to be fully up-to-date and prepared

This isn't going to be an easy contract to win. We need to stay ahead of the game and be ready for everything they ask us.

4. Get into the swing of things (golf) – to get used to your new surroundings

When I started working here, it took me a few weeks to get into the swing of things and understanding how our processes work

5.Long shot (golf) – something that is unlikely to happen

We contacted the company, but it will be a long shot if they get back to use by the end of the day

6. Get the ball rolling (bowling) - to start the process of something

They are happy with our offer and want to get the ball rolling next week

Cheers - English native speaker in Lviv and online

Skype lessons and Zoom classes with a native speaker from England

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