play it by ear

American Idiom: Play it by ear

To play it by ear –  means to act without planning in advance. In other words, you deal with situations or figure things out as they happen.

A working knowledge of frequently used idioms is essential in order to naturally communicate with Americans. Learn to speak English fluently with Poly Languages.

Watch the full video below to learn about the idiom, to play it by ear.

Video Transcript

Susan, let’s not plan for our trip tomorrow. Let’s just play it by ear.

‘To play it by ear’ –  means to act without planning in advance. In other words, you deal with situations or figure things out as they happen.

Here are example sentences :

  1. I am too tired to talk about what we should do tomorrow. Let’s just play it by ear.

2. I don’t know what to prepare for tomorrow’s job interview. I am going to play it by ear.

Let’s do an exercise so that you can better remember the idiom.

For each question, replace a word or words in a sentence with the idiom so that the meaning of the sentence is not changed. You have five seconds per question.

Question 1:

I don’t know how long I’ll stay at my mom’s house. I’ll figure it out then.

I don’t know how long I’ll stay at my mom’s house. I’ll play it by ear.

Question 2:

I don’t know what to tell her when she finds out that I wrecked her car. I’m going to deal with it then.

I don’t know what to tell her when she finds out that I wrecked her car. I’m going to play it by ear.

Practice makes perfect!

A working knowledge of frequently used idioms is essential in order to naturally communicate with Americans. Learn to speak English fluently with Poly Languages.

Play it by ear.

More questions here!

Question 3:

I don’t know how they’ll react to our proposal, so we’ll just have to figure it out and hope for the best.

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Question 4:

I’m not sure whether my plan will work but let’s try and we’ll see what will happen.

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