"Jugar" vs. "Tocar" in Spanish

Quick Answer

In Spanish, there are two verbs commonly used to say to play: jugarand tocar.

Let's learn the difference between these easily confused verbs!


Jugar is used when talking about playing a game or a sport.

For example:

A mi abuelo le encanta jugar al ajedrez.
My grandpa loves playing chess.
Los niños están jugando al fútbol.
The kids are playing soccer.


Tocar is used when talking about playing an instrument or performing music.

For example:

tocar la guitarra.
I know how to play the guitar.
La banda estaba tocando toda la noche.
The band was playing all night long.