Could you please explain to me this sentence?

Sophie had to play Tiger Woods in golf in just one month"

The sentence should be correct as it is taken from English classes. Why don't the say

Sophie had to play with Tiger woods"

Would it be incorrect if I would use a word "with"?

  • Stylistic reasons. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Sep 18 '15 at 21:10
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    The construction "play with" implies cooperation rather than competition. If you want to change the sentence, use "play against". – Dan Bron Sep 18 '15 at 21:12
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    Sentences taken from English classes are not always correct; it depends on whether the teacher is a native English speaker or not. English textbooks and classes outside Anglophone countries are often quite poor and frequently teach incorrect ideas and patterns. Sorry about that, but facts are facts. This particular sentence is in fact correct; but play with does not mean the same thing as play in this context. – John Lawler Sep 18 '15 at 21:19
  • John plays George at golf, tennis etc. He also plays the piano. He usually plays with his children before dinner. The children play with one another after dinner. On Saturday John's football team will play Liverpool in the Premier League. – WS2 Sep 18 '15 at 21:39
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    Thank you very much for your comments. They really are helpful and give answers to what I was looking for. :) – Dii Sep 18 '15 at 21:55

With implies collaboration -- that they were on the same team. If they were competitors, she played against him. If neither word is present, it's understood that she played against him -- that they were competitors.

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