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Bend the rules: meaning and explanation

Bending the rules is similar in meaning to breaking the rules, but in a less negative sense.

If someone talks about bending the rules, then they don’t view the situation as serious – there aren’t any negative consequences to not following the rules, or they are breaking the rules only in a very minor way.

e.g. Although Michaela is quite a strict teacher, she’s happy to bend the rules occasionally.

Note that people might use this expression to make their actions sound less negative than they are. In reality, they are breaking the rules with negative consequences, but they want to make it sound harmless.

Here’s an example in an North American accent:

, .
wouldn't at , I a to .

About the sentence

…from time to time…

The phrase from time to time is a nice alternative to occasionally or sometimes.

e.g. I work from home, but I like to go into the office from time to time just to show my face and catch up with colleagues.

And another example, this time in an RP accent:

Here are two more examples in a North American accent:

Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Do you ever bend the rules in board games? How do you feel about people who do this?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where you felt tempted to bend the rules? What were the circumstances, and what factors influenced your decision?
  • Can you think of examples from your country or society where bending the rules is commonly accepted or even encouraged?
  • Have you ever witnessed someone else bending the rules? How did you react to their actions, and did it change your perception of them or the situation?

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