“Try And…” vs “Try To…”


Don’t worry… It will be after I’m done with it. ūüėČ

These two phrases (followed by some verb) are VERY often mistaken. ¬†This is largely because in British English, it is much more common to say, “Try and…”

Now, don’t get me wrong. ¬†This isn’t a “British vs American” thing here. ¬†There are plenty of people all over the world who say it either, or BOTH ways.


“I’m going to try and¬†explain this to you so that it makes sense.”


-Vs-


“I’m going to try to¬†explain this to you so that it makes sense.”


“Okay, so what’s the problem? ¬†Both of those sound good. ¬†I hear people say it both ways all the time.”


Basically, the difference is… ¬†To express something in the way which both of these phrases are most often used, the phrase, “Try and…”¬†is, grammatically, incorrect.

This is because, when this phrase is used in a sentence, the main verb is,¬†“Try”. ¬†But then there is also a verb following the word “And” – so then there are two separate actions happening.


If one were to say…


“I’m going to try and¬†explain this to you so that you can understand.”


…then this means that there are two things happening here:


  • “I’m going to try”¬†(to explain) – and then…
  • “I’m going to explain“… Wait, huh?… ¬†How does that work?

The problem with this is – first of all…


Trying Is NOT Doing!


But more importantly


If there are, indeed, two actions happening here, then the first clause (with,¬†“try” as the main verb) is incomplete. ¬†So if we separate the actions (“trying” and “explaining”) then one of yet two more things is happening:


1.  If the person is not confident they he or she will actually be ABLE to explain whatever he or she is trying to explain, then the sentence should say:


“I’m going to try to explain this to you, and hopefully it will be clear.”


2. ¬†If the person is confident that he or she will be able to explain it, then “try” is either redundant, or it is a second action which is missing either a gerund, an infinitive, or a noun/noun phrase¬†which represents the new experience that one is going to “try”.


Jump Out Of A Plane - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

“I’m going to try jumping out of this plane…” – (Gerund)


Baby Punch - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

“I’m going to try to NOT punch you in the face…” – (Infinitive)


Eating Cake - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

“I’m going to try that delicious looking cake over there…” – (Noun Phrase)


Talking Egg - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

“…and then I’m going to explain this to you.”


So the only way that is grammatically correct (despite the fact that very well-educated people may say otherwise) is to say…


“I’m going to try to¬†explain this to you.”

There You Go - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

And that’s all there is to it… You’re welcome.


And On A More Philosophical Point…


It is not possible to both “TRY” something and¬†“DO” something. ¬†If a person “Tries” something, and is successful, then that person actually “Did” it.

Both situations (despite what Schrodinger and his cat may say) can NOT exist at the same time… ¬†At least not in this dimension… ¬†yet… ¬†talk to Cern, they are probably working on this.


Remember what master Yoda said to Luke in the swamp…



May The Force
(and the comprehension of the proper use of grammar)
Be With You


Update!!!

There is another way to think about “Try To…”¬†that I didn’t previously make clear when originally writing the blog post above. ¬†And That is that “Try to…” is not a phrase — and it is wrong to think of it in that way.

The word, “Try” is the main verb of the sentence. ¬†The particle “To” is actually part of the Infinitive Form of the verb that follows. ¬†Therefore, it is functioning as the subject of the sentence, rather than as a verb.


Example:

Try to comprehend what I am saying.”

Try¬†[main verb]¬†to comprehend¬†[infinitive + “to”, functioning as the subject of the sentence]¬†what I am saying¬†[object of the sentence]

(And that’s Why “Try and…” Is Wrong)


Have An Excellent Day!

ūüėČ

 

 

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The Man Known As "The Teacher" is the creator of - administrator for - and sole content contributor to - all that is GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!,  as well as a being a TEFL certified English teacher A Master of Ninja Invisibility and Jedi Mind Tricks, AND has a secret under-ground UFO bunker and Mad Scientist's Laboratory hidden deep in The Balkans where he currently resides with his beautiful wife and the formerly-homeless monkeys that have infested his apartment. He is also a Gemini and so is his evil twin ;)

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5 Responses

  1. Nancy says:

    If you substitute the word ‚Äúattempt‚ÄĚ for ‚Äútry,‚ÄĚ it will be clear which usage is correct. For example, no one says ‚ÄúI am going to attempt and explain this to you.‚ÄĚ

  2. The Teacher says:

    Hello Nancy,

    Thanks for your comment. That’s a good idea for how to illustrate the point.

    Have An Excellent Day

  3. Cathy says:

    I’ve always thought we used “to try and” because it simply sounds better than “to try to.”

  4. The Teacher says:

    Hello Cathy,

    Thanks for the message.

    It is definitely true that in the spoken form, most people do say “…try and…” (more like “…try’n…”) – However, whether this sounds “better” or not is subjective – and there are no “rules” about saying things just because they sound better. That is just a product of common usage, but the majority of people doing something wrong, does not make it “correct” (no matter what the dictionary “says”).

    The point of the article was to show that, even though “…try and…” is very common, it is grammatically wrong. And though it has become acceptable to use “…try’n…” when speaking (most people wouldn’t even notice it) – it should not be used in the written form (unless it is quoted dialogue). This is what many people (myself included) would call “poor form”.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Have An Excellent Day!

  1. December 20, 2017

    […] Grammar is being destroyed everywhere, especially on the web. I’m sure I do my part, especially in my more casual posts but I try to do my best in considered posts. One thing that has always bothered me and which I’ve seen a lot in just the past week made me look for support. I don’t think people even believe this is correct and are consciously wedded to using it – I think it’s just one of those unquestioned things that have slipped into the usage of many writers (and editors!): “Try And‚Ķ” vs “Try To‚Ķ” […]

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