What is the difference between «поиграть» and «сыграть»? They both are perfective forms of «играть» (to play, to perform). When should each one be used? Are they interchangeable?


3 Answers 3


Поиграть means 'to play a little (for some time, with something)' and if it's about some game (not just toys), then maybe to leave it unfinished.

До двух часов поиграем в футбол, потом пойдём купаться.

Сыграть means to play a complete game or to perform some element in a game, e g. to pass the ball or to make a chess move.

Вчера наша команда сыграла вничью.

В этой позиции Фишер сыграл Kg5.

Idiomatically, the word can be used in the meaning ' to take advantage of something'.

Он сыграл на слабости своего начальника к выпивке.

There are also idioms like this one:

Сыграть в ящик (to bite the dust, to die)

So the words are usually not interchangeable.


yes, the difference is in completeness of action, or maybe rather intensity

вчера мы поиграли в футбол

meaning we played some football, we could play the whole 90 mins, but not necessarily, or we could play longer than 90 mins, could also adjourn the rest of the game for later, the outcome of the game doesn't necessarily imply any end result

вчера мы сыграли в футбол

meaning we played from start to finish and must have had a winner such statement actually invites a question 'so who won?'

он поиграл мне на гитаре

for some time he played guitar for me, he could take breaks then resume playing, play different pieces and not necessarily in full

он cыграл мне на гитаре

he played guitar for a fixed amount of time with no breaks, which usually implies a complete performance of a musical piece or a set of consecutive pieces

consider also сделать VS поделать

я поделал уроки

i did some homework, doesn't mean i did all of it

я cделал уроки

i've done my homework, meaning i did all assignments i had had

one of prefix ПО- meanings is incompleteness or rather INSUFFICIENCY of action:

вскопать - повскапывать
выкопать - покопать
спеть - попеть
прочитать - почитать
выпить - попить


Сыграть.The general meaning is a result,completion of playing.

1.To take part in a game, to finish playing the game.

сыграть в шахматы

  1. Transitive. to perfom a play, an opera.

    Сыграть пьесу

  2. Intransitive . to take part in some performance.

    сыграть в фильме.

  3. Transitive. To play a part(role) ,

    Сыграть роль Городничего, Сыграть в великодушие.

  4. To perform using a musical instrument

    сыграть сонату на скрипке

  5. To use someone 's feelings in one 's own interests.

Сыграть на инстинктах, на чувствах.

Поиграть to.spend some time playing.

Поиграть в шахматы. Поиграть в крокет. Поиграть на скрипке. Поиграть с ребенком. Поиграть еще некоторое время на сцене.

Besides, there are lots of idioms, like сыграть в ящик, поиграть на нервах, сыграть шутку или штуку, сыграть на руку кому-нибудь*, etc.

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