What is the best Spanish translation of the English idiom "to play favorites" (as in favoring individuals in a group instead of treating everyone equally)?
I would say
Here's the definition given in the DRAE:
- m. Preferencia dada al favor sobre el mérito o la equidad, especialmente cuando aquella es habitual o predominante.
My answer will focus on verbs.
If you don't mind sounding a bit like a canned translation of an article, you can use "jugar favoritos."
In conversation, common ways of dealing with this are:
consentir (Collins: to spoil)
Mi mamá le consentía a mi hermano, pero era muy estricta conmigo. | My mother spoiled my brother but was very strict with me.
tener preferencia (Collins: tiene una clara preferencia por la hija mayor | he has a clear preference for his eldest daughter / his eldest daughter is his clear favourite)
Mi mamá tenia preferencia por mi hermano.