Idiom use?

I noticed two variations of the following idiom, but wonder which one is the correct method via the English language.

1. Two can play at that game.


2. Two can play that game.

What would be the difference concerning the two?

I believe the meaning as follows:

The tactics and/or strategies of an enemy can be used against him.


Should an enemy close a particular door to prevent entry, another method can be used to locate a second entry location.

Thank you.

5 Answers

  • 2 months ago
    Favourite answer

    I do not see how the example fits the idiom.  However, play or play at are simply regional variations with the same essential meaning in this situation.  For me, to play at has the idea of pretending, or acting, rather than participating in a game (which is the meaning of play, alone) but this is not universally true.  I would not use play at to mean play, but some do.

  • 2 months ago

    2. Two can play that game.

    i can pay back in the same coin.

  • 2 months ago

    Both are possible, although the first may be more common. I think your interpretations are a little harsh. People use this expression casually with no ill intent, often. 

    English is a very flexible language. However, if you think about sayings in your own language, there are probably many variations that are acceptable. 

  • 2 months ago

    Like Karen said in the other answer, the meanings are the same.

    The expression is used to point out that whatever one person does to you, you can do it right back to them.

    So if your sister is in the habit of wearing your favorite sweaters, you can warn her that "Two can play that game" -- and start wearing her favorite blouses.

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  • 2 months ago

    They mean the same thing. There is no difference. Use whichever one you want.

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