ESL students commonly make the mistake of using play to talk about meeting with their friends to have fun:

I played with my friends last night at the bar. (WRONG!)

Are you going to play with your friends this weekend? (WRONG!)

English speakers usually use the idiom hang out or the phrasal verb meet up with for this meaning. (Play is only used when talking about children.):

I hung out with my friends last night at the bar.

Are you going to meet up with your friends this weekend?

The children played outside all day.

Woody’s son always wants to play with his friends.

It is OK to use play when you are talking about games, sports, or music.

The team plays basketball 3 times a week.

We played cards all night at the party.

Can you play the piano?

Finally, if you use play when talking about adults, it often has a sexual meaning.

P—-ing with yourself is a euphemism for masturbation.

He was playing around in the backseat of the car with his girfriend.

Advertisements