I see that du is used with sport. However for a specific game, I am confused which is the correct phrase

jouer au football (en jouant au football)


jouer du football (en jouant du football)

I see a related question with regard to piano/music. « Jouer au piano » ou « jouer du piano » ? If someone can explain in simple English it will be of great help.

  • 2
    I have a vague memory that it's "jouer au football" (but "faire du football"), but I can't tell you whether (or why) it's correct. Helpful!
    – hairboat
    Aug 21 '13 at 19:01

It's the verb that drives the preposition. The verb jouer has many possible meanings; depending on the meaning its complement(s) may start with this or that preposition or none.

For a sport or a game, the preposition is à.

Il joue au football.
Il joue aux échecs.

For a musical instrument, the preposition is de.

Il joue du piano.

The basic idea of the distinction is that jouer à is for participating in an activity, while jouer de is for using a physical implement. For a physical implement that represents a game by metonymy, it's still jouer à: “jouer aux dés”, “jouer aux boules”. Jouer de is not in very common use outside musical instruments.


Pretty certain it's “jouer au football“.


I really have a fun way to remember it.. JSD for sports...that is jouer de and sports u can remember it by the indian baller jaspinder....

If one is jouer de the other one jouer a is obvviously for the musical instrument...hope u got it


  • 2
    The question is 3 years old and has an accepted answer. I think he/she got it. Considering you're new, you should visit the tour page and the help center. Also, it's good practice to avoid necroposts on answered questions. Feb 6 '17 at 15:53
  • 1
    The lack of formatting makes this very difficult to read. Besides it does add anything to the previous answer.
    – None
    Feb 6 '17 at 17:07
  • 1
    This question seems to attract late and bad answers...
    – Laurent S.
    Mar 2 '20 at 13:17

As far as I can see, you use 'jouer de' for a musical instrument (jouer du piano, jouer de la guitare, jouer de la flûte etc.) et 'jouer à' for any game or sport (jouer aux échecs, jouer aux dames, jouer au volley, jouer au tennis, jouer à la pétanque).

  • There's no point answering an already accepted answer, trying to say the same thing in no better way.
    – None
    Mar 3 '20 at 10:16
  • C'est exact, mais au moment où j'ai écrit ma réponse, il ne m'avait pas semblé qu'il en existait d'autres... Erreur de débutant, peut-être.
    – incises
    Mar 3 '20 at 14:05

Au is for team sports Eg football Du is for individual sports Eg tennis Faire ils for an activity Eg skiing

  • 3
    Hello and welcome on French Language! Do you have any reference for this claim because it does not sound right, for instance I have never heard “jouer du tennis” but I have no issue with either “je joue au tennis” and “je fais du tennis”.
    – Evpok
    Mar 1 '20 at 16:05
  • I must admit it's hard to be welcoming with someone posting such a wrong answer to such an old question which already have a valid answer. What's the point?
    – Laurent S.
    Mar 2 '20 at 13:16

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