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  1. #1
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    play a joke on and play a joke with

    Dear teachers,

    I know there is the expression "to play a joke on somebody". Then I came across a sentence "He play a little joke with the educational system". Could you please explain if there is a phrase 'to play with somebody or something'?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang

  2. #2
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    Re: play a joke on and play a joke with

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    Dear teachers,

    I know there is the expression "to play a joke on somebody". Then I came across a sentence "He play a little joke with the educational system". Could you please explain if there is a phrase 'to play with somebody or something'?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    Dear Jiang,
    I have never heard the phrase "play a little joke with" in the context you described. You can "play a joke on" someone or "joke with" someone but you can't joke with or play a joke on a thing.

  3. #3
    Naamplao is offline Senior Member
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    Re: play a joke on and play a joke with

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    Dear teachers,

    I know there is the expression "to play a joke on somebody". Then I came across a sentence "He plays a little joke with the educational system". Could you please explain if there is a phrase 'to play with somebody or something'?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    It is unusual to say "play a joke with" but "play a joke on" is much more common.

    To "play a joke on someone" means that the "someone" is the object of the joke.

    I played a joke on John and told him the exam was tomorrow. Boy! Was he angry when he found out the exam was today! It was so funny.

    To "play a joke with someone" would mean that the "someone" is helping you with the joke.

    I played a joke with Bob, today. We told John that the exam was tomorrow. Boy! Was he angry when he found out the exam was today! It was so funny.

    This sentence -
    He plays a little joke with the educational system. - is unusual and more context is required to say whether it is a good sentence or not.

    It suggests to me that "he" is using the "educational system" somehow to play a joke on someone else.

  4. #4
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Re: play a joke on and play a joke with

    &
    Dear Carl,

    Thank you very much for your reply. It must be the textbook that made a mistake.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by Hi_there_Carl View Post
    Dear Jiang,
    I have never heard the phrase "play a little joke with" in the context you described. You can "play a joke on" someone or "joke with" someone but you can't joke with or play a joke on a thing.

  5. #5
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Re: play a joke on and play a joke with


    Dear Naamplao,

    Thank you so much for your explanation. I think you are right. The context is this:
    A teacher wanted to give a student zero because the student did not give the standard answer to a standard question. The student's answer is correct but he didn't use the method the teacher taught him. He said he did it on purpose because he was fed up with the educational system. As you said he used the sentence to play a joke on the teacher.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by Naamplao View Post
    It is unusual to say "play a joke with" but "play a joke on" is much more common.

    To "play a joke on someone" means that the "someone" is the object of the joke.

    I played a joke on John and told him the exam was tomorrow. Boy! Was he angry when he found out the exam was today! It was so funny.

    To "play a joke with someone" would mean that the "someone" is helping you with the joke.

    I played a joke with Bob, today. We told John that the exam was tomorrow. Boy! Was he angry when he found out the exam was today! It was so funny.

    This sentence - He plays a little joke with the educational system. - is unusual and more context is required to say whether it is a good sentence or not.

    It suggests to me that "he" is using the "educational system" somehow to play a joke on someone else.

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