Try To Và Trying

Would you consider a post on the difference between “try and ” và “try to ? <…> I hear và read more people using “try and ” but that doesn’t seem as logical as “try to . Is there a difference between the two terms? If not, is one to lớn be preferred? 

I’m always amused when objections to idioms are raised on grounds of lô ghích. “Try and” followed by a coordinate verb is an idiom; idioms don’t have to be logical.

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Nevertheless, a lot of speakers object to lớn the use of “try & do” instead of “try khổng lồ vày.” What bởi vì the authorities think?

Merriam-Webster is unambiguously supportive:

Almost all disparaging criticism of “try and” comes from American critics; British commentators have sầu generally been tolerant. There appears lớn be no rational basis for hostility to the expression and no need to avoid it in appropriate surroundings.

The OED includes an entry for “try và,” but still labels it as a colloquialism.

OxfordDictionaries observes that “In practice there is little discernible difference in meaning, although there is a difference in formality, with try to being regarded as more formal than try and.”

Even M-W, with the reference lớn “appropriate surroundings” implies that “try to” is preferable for formal use.

But is there, as our reader asks, a difference between such wordings as, “Try và stop complaining” & “Try lớn stop complaining”?

Fowler discerned a difference:

Though “try to do” can always be substituted for “try và do,” the latter has a shade of meaning that justifies its existence; in exhortations it implies encouragement–the effort will succeed–; in promises it implies assurance–the effort shall succeed. It is an idiom that should be not discountenanced, but used when it comes natural.

A Columbo episode has the title “Try và Catch Me.” A rebellious teenager might respond lớn a request by saying, “Try và make me.” In discussing a modern painting, art critic Sister Wendy says, “I’ll try & make sense of it.” In each of these examples, the và conveys something lớn would not. Perhaps we can add “effort” lớn Fowler’s “exhortation and promises.”

How correct is Fowler’s statement that “try to bởi can always be substituted for try & do”? As a rule, it has its pitfalls. For example, consider the following headline & sentence:

Two Judges Try & Fail khổng lồ Shut Down Union Rights

It’s better khổng lồ try and regret, than not to try and regret.

In the first example, changing the “try and” khổng lồ “try to” would leave the reader wondering why the judges tried to fail in their purpose: “Two judges try to fail to lớn shut down union rights.”

Changing “try and” lớn “try to” in the second example would result in the sentence, “It’s better lớn try lớn regret, than not khổng lồ try to lớn regret.” The original sentence, however, means something very different: “It’s better to try and regret , than not to lớn try and regret .”

The note at OxfordDictionaries includes an explanation as lớn why “try and” remains questionable in formal usage despite its ubiquity in conversation:

The construction try and is grammatically odd…in that it cannot be inflected for tense (e.g. sentences lượt thích she tried & fix it or they are trying and renew their visa are not acceptable, while their equivalents she tried lớn fix it or they are trying khổng lồ renew their visa undoubtedly are). For this reason try and is best regarded as a fixed idiom used only in its infinitive và imperative sầu size.

Careful writers will continue khổng lồ scrutinize their use of “try and” in formal contexts, but they can still feel free in conversation and dialogue khổng lồ follow Fowler’s advice about using it “when it comes natural.”

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39 Responses khổng lồ “Try to vs. Try and”

Nanaon February 11, 2014 5:01 am

“But is there, as our reader asks, a difference between such wordings as, “Try & stop complaining” and “Try to lớn stop complaining”?”

I believe there can be differences in meaning, depending on usage and context.

In this example, suppose someone was responding to the complaint “I don’t know how khổng lồ bởi this maths problem”.

The former example would instruct the complain khổng lồ Try & stop complaining .

The latter example is an admonishment lớn “Try to stop complaining”.

Nanaon February 11, năm trước 5:02 am

*instruct the complainER

Mikeon February 11, 2014 8:39 am

“Try khổng lồ do” describes one action.” Try and do” describes two actions. 99% of the time, one of the actions is redundant.

Dannyon February 11, 2014 11:04 am

The headline: “Two Judges Try & Fail lớn Shut Down Union Rights” could be recast as “Two Judges Try to & Fail lớn Shut Down Union Rights.”

Ugly, perhaps, but the “try and” can become “try to lớn.”

The note at OxfordDictionaries missed the boat: “She tried and fixed it” is a perfectly reasonable past tense of “try and.”

Much avì about nothing!

Dale A. Woodon February 11, 2014 11:32 am

There is another misstep of a different sort in the expression:“Two Judges Try và Fail khổng lồ Shut Down Union Rights.”To be correct, it should be written as the following:“Two Judges Try but Fail to Shut Down Union Rights.”

The conjunction “but” is needed because the sentence is expressing the CONTRAST between “to lớn try” but “to fail”. I have sầu seen this relatedly in other sentences: the use of “and” when “but” was needed.The conjunction “and” would be used in a case of success: “Lindbergh tried & succeeded to fly across the Atlantic nonstop in 1927.”

Several aviators of the U.S. Navy had flown across the Atlantic Ocean in 1919 – from New York City khổng lồ Lisbon, Portugal – but they made stops in Nova Scotia, Newfoundl&, và the Azores Islands along the way, for refueling, repairs, and rest. Their seaplane was named the NC-4, and it can be seen in a Naval Aviation museum in Pensacola, Floridomain authority. Then in 19đôi mươi, an aircrew flew a dirigible across the Atlantic.

Also, remember a pop tuy vậy from America from decades ago. It has the chorus that goes:“He tried, but he couldn’t bởi it. He tried, but he couldn’t vày it. He tried, but he couldn’t vì it. Too old to lớn cut the mustard anymore!”(It is old-style country & western music.)D.A.W.

Dale A. Woodon February 11, 2014 11:39 am

Oops, in my phản hồi above, I accidentally typed two or three words in the wrong order. There would be little or nothing that I could do about that except for typing the whole thing over, and I và NOT going lớn vị that.D.A.W.

Tom Mooreon February 11, 2014 12:16 pm

The example of two judges is written khổng lồ inkhung the reader of their effort và its result. But for our need khổng lồ understvà the strange usage of “try and”, it should have sầu stayed true khổng lồ the other examples of this topic of discussion & not have sầu given a result or a contrast of their try. Instead, “try and shut down union rights, but fail.” I think “try and” is strange unless as done in our example where the result was placed as the next word, then it is just fine. “Try to lớn shut down union rights” is much better than “try and shut down union rights.” But, if the result is known, as one commenter already suggested, use “but” instead of “and”. Try, but fail to lớn shut down union rights.

Paul Baldwinon February 11, năm trước 12:30 pm

Fine. I suppose it is an idiom. A shame, but it can’t be helped. It stands on a technicality.

Amandaon February 11, 2014 12:52 pm

The difference in your examples is the tense of the sentence. The headline và sentence example are both referring to lớn past events, and the “and” could easily be replaced with “but.”

When using the future tense to give sầu an order or suggestion, “try to” just sounds so much cleaner than “try và.”

Paul Baldwinon February 11, 2014 1:02 pm

On the bell curve of idiomatic expressions, isn’t “try and” on the fringes? That is to say, because it has no noun or maybe I mean it’s a phrase with no subject.

It seems most of them vì chưng. For example: Cat out of the bag. Rule of thumb. Saved by the bell. Costs an arm và a leg. Judge a book by its cover. Till the cows come home page. See what I mean?

On the other hvà, it apparently isn’t required. Eighty-six. Twenty-three skidoo. Scot miễn phí. So there you are.

philip eon February 11, năm trước 1:06 pm

I have a problem with Fowler’s assessment. “Try và do” implies two separate actions: trying and doing. “Try khổng lồ do” implies an attempt to accomplish an action.Or is this a stretch???

venqaxon February 11, 2014 2:37 pm

Shouldn’t Fowler have sầu said, “It is an idiom that should be not discountenanced, but used when it comes naturalLY”?

venqaxon February 11, năm trước 5:51 pm

”Two Judges Try and Fail khổng lồ Shut Down Union RightsIt’s better khổng lồ try & regret, than not to try và regret.”

I think the problem with the above sầu is different from what’s been remarked on. These two sentences are not examples of the idioms *try to* or *try and* at all. They are simply cases where the word and happens to lớn follow the word try. Not all such cases constitute the idiom. Just as if you were khổng lồ say, “The word try and the word và sure are mighty fine words”.

In the cited examples, two distinct actions are being referenced: Judges 1) try to vày something, & 2) they fail at that try. It’s better 1) lớn try and then 2) khổng lồ regret, etc. The idioms in question, OTOH, always refer khổng lồ a single action: try khổng lồ stop crying or try và (it will cause you to) stop crying.

Glynis Jollyon February 12, 2014 3:27 pm

I’m American so I guess I’m one of those who want the more formal.“Let me try help you”“Let me try help you”The first one is odd. What are you trying khổng lồ do? The 1st sentence doesn’t tell you. The second one makes perfect sense.

“You may try fail.”“You may try fail.”In this one the first one makes better sense. Who tries fail? I thought people try succeed.

Bottom line: There’s the right time lớn use both & there’s the wrong time to lớn use both.

Alion February 17, năm trước 6:52 pm

It seems “try and” should be able to be substituted with “try and then”, where “try to” means more like “attempt to”.

Byronon June 09, 2014 9:07 am

I find it amusing when poor diction becomes prevalent to the point that it is labeled an idiom.

Arleneon October 13, 2014 5:59 pm

I probably shouldn’t have sầu referred to “try” as a modal–more accurately it is a transitive sầu verb, “try,” followed by the infinitive sầu phrase functioning as the direct object.

Arleneon October 14, năm trước 12:31 pm

Just a note to the reviewers–you printed my second phản hồi, but not the first. Without the first, the second make no sense.

Stuart Showalteron December 25, 2014 6:00 pm

In the arena of drafting child custody agreements or proposed orders precision in language is of importance. Our supreme court continually reinforces the doctrine that ambiguous orders are unenforceable. I am therefore potentially overly sensitive sầu to potential ambiguities or misunderstandings.“I will try & vì chưng that tomorrow” khổng lồ me clear states two intentions. The first is lớn make an attempt tomorrow. The second is to lớn assure that the effort will succeed tomorrow. The phrase is succinct in conveying both. When there is uncertainty “try to” is required.“Two judges try and fail lớn shut down union rights.” I believe sầu this is a nullity as ‘fail’ in this sense is in the past. The proposed “try to” correction & its difficulties are unpersuasive as justification for maintaining the “try and” in this usage. “Two judges tried but failed lớn shut down union rights” conveys the meaning of an unsuccessful attempt rather than an attempt lớn be unsuccessful.

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Bobon December 28, 2014 4:47 pm

In use, either term would likely be understood. However, “and” is a coordinating conjunction, joining two items of equal importance or value. Technically, if a person says, “I am going to try & . . .,” there is no need khổng lồ use “try” if his statement continues by his saying he is going lớn “do.” So what message is his statement giving–that he is going to try lớn do something, that he is going to both try lớn do something and vày it, or that he is going to vị something?

Davidon January 25, 2015 1:10 pm

The example, “It’s better to try và regret, than not to try và regret,” is mis-punctuated. It should read: “It’s better to lớn try, & regret, than not to lớn try, and regret.” (Notice the use of commas.) When written correctly, there is no ambiguity in meaning. Using poor grammar to lớn support poor grammar is just digging ourselves deeper.

The other usage of “try và,” such as “Two Judges Try and Fail khổng lồ Shut Down Union Rights,” is not the same as the original colloquiallism. This example represents two distict ideas: the “trying” & the “doing.” Used in this fashion, it is marginally correct to lớn use “try and”, although in the negative connotation such as above sầu, one would be better off using “try, but,” as in “Two Judges Try, but Fail khổng lồ Shut Down Union Rights.” The colloquial usage being described by the original poster is, on the other hand, a bastardisation stemming from laziness, as it is easier khổng lồ say “try and” than “try to” (especially when truncating the “and” to “n”, as in “try ‘n’ vày something”).

We need to lớn face up lớn the fact that this construction is grammatically incorrect, but has, sadly, taken over in comtháng colloquial usage. I don’t mind hearing it in spoken English, but I vì get tired of seeing authors, while otherwise adopting a rather formal tone, using this monstrosity in their writing. If nothing else, it just looks wrong.

Luzon August 07, năm ngoái 7:42 pm

David, who told you commas make the difference there? Who told you adding commas here và there turn poorly written sentences into correct sentences?If you have no idea about this subject, the best you can vì is avoid confusing others.

Bill DeWitton April 07, năm 2016 3:02 pm

“Two judges tried và failed” is workable, any present or future events are not workable.“Come khổng lồ see two judges try & fail” is unreasonably predictive sầu.

But the consternation is over using “try và bởi vì something” when what is meant is “try khổng lồ bởi something”. Switch to the present participle and explain how you are both trying & doing something. You are either trying something or you are doing something or you are Yodomain authority.

The problems is that “to lớn do” is the root verb. One doesn’t attempt và vày, or fail và vị, or plan và vì chưng. You attempt khổng lồ vày, fail lớn bởi vì, plan to bởi, và try khổng lồ bởi.

Andrew Simmson July 04, năm nhâm thìn 9:53 pm

I agree with some of the other comments here. While “try and” is often used as a substitute for “try to”, they may or may not be intended khổng lồ mean the same thing. For example:

When Sister Wendy says “I’ll try & make sense of it” she is talking about a single act: an attempt khổng lồ make sense of a modern painting. I think “try to” is correct here, though I accept “try and” as a colloquialism that has become acceptable.

However when “Two Judges Try và Fail khổng lồ Shut Down Union Rights” the headline is talking about two acts/events: an attempt khổng lồ shut down union rights, và the subsequent failure of that attempt. You could not use “try to” in this instance without changing the meaning of the sentence. it would mean that from the outphối, they attempted khổng lồ not shut down union rights.

Elianeon July 25, 2016 5:40 pm

I have just seen this sentence from a text “A team of British lawmakers will head lớn Washington D.C. next month lớn try & resolve the EU-U.S. disagreement on…” So, in this case, is it the same as “lớn try to resolve”?

Joeon August 24, năm nhâm thìn 4:49 pm

Merriam Webster, an American outfit, takes issue with those of us who prefer our words make sense, while saying that the British generally are happy with either construction. Isn’t it odd then that Oxford, a British outfit, takes issue with the oddness và grammatical nonsensicalness of the expression.

As khổng lồ Fowler: it’s difficult to to take someone seriously when they use “natural” to lớn modify “use”. Maybe should I say that it’s difficult to lớn take hlặng serious.

Kevin Shaabanion December 29, 2016 11:10 pm

To “try and do” something is COMPLETELY wrong. All the justifications for its usage are just excuses for people having used it và gotten away with it. Every time someone says “try and…” they are just following incorrect grammar that has been passed down lớn them. There is never a truly legitimate reason lớn use “try and”. You always try to lớn do -the action-, you don’t try & then vì it. Just admit it’s wrong và move on!

“Try & be happy”You’ve never indicated exactly what to try. This is not encouragement for anything, rather, it is using a word out of context when it should be used in context. And the proof? Every time someone says “try and” they indeed mean to lớn say “try to”. Plain và simple.

Aaron Gon April 04, 2017 8:59 pm

Kevin Shaabani is right to lớn the extent that these are all just justifications for a bad habit.

The article is wrong in that it attempts to lớn discern a difference where there is no such difference. “Try and” never conveys more context, with one exception: try & fail (inappropriately used as an example above). Even then, it’s not a wise choice of words: as someone else points out, “but” works better here for the contrast it offers.

No one ever tries và does something. They are either still trying it (or have not reported back, or we otherwise don’t know whether they succeeded, or we would rather emphakích cỡ the attempt than the failure), they succeeded (in which case it is unnecessary to discuss the try because it is implied), or they failed.

Also, here is a counter-example that proves “try and” is not a suitable replacement for “try to”:

“Let me try lớn beat the final boss.” It would be grammatically incorrect to lớn use “and” here. You can’t know whether you will beat the final trùm.

Finally, one cannot simply justify poor writing by saying “well it’s an idiom.” Good writers expertly use idioms all the time, but they only vị so where the idiom has some literary value; “try and” has none, unless you are writing from the perspective of (or quoting) an illiterate hillbilly.

Jennifer Aon May 08, 2017 7:27 pm

“Try and” is not an idiom. An idiom is a group of words or an expression that has a meaning one can’t deduce from the elements of that expression. It is very easily understood what is meant my “try and”.Generally when using two verbs, the second verb is in infinitive sầu form. “They agreed to lớn lower the price.”“He appeared to be the most experienced thành viên of the group.”These wouldn’t make sense with the word “and”.

Derekbdon August đôi mươi, 2017 6:41 am

“Try and” simply doesn’t sound right khổng lồ me. Regardless, people in the British Isles seem to use “try and” almost exclusively. It’s rare (in my experience) to hear them say “try to”.

Sachaon November 01, 2017 9:49 am

Your argument in the example ‘It’s better to try & regret, than not khổng lồ try và regret’ is entirely superfluous; even though this example is not grammatically incorrect, for clarity it would be far more appropriate lớn say ‘It’s better khổng lồ try & khổng lồ regret, than not to try và to regret’. This uses both ‘and’ AND ‘to’, whereas the original question dealternative text only with which was correct, ‘and’ OR ‘to’.

The simple rule is that, because we’re dealing with the infinitive sầu of the verb (to lớn sing, to be, to lớn make…) , we should always use ‘try to’. ‘Try và ’ is a spoken idiom & although spoken idioms can debatably be embraced for what they are, they are not necessarily logical và not necessarily correct. It’s exactly the same argument as the incorrect use of apostrophes – loads of people vị it, but that doesn’t make it correct.

Chikokishion May 21, 2018 4:15 am

I am by far not a professional in English, nor do i particularily care about grammar. However, i have been teaching english as a second language for a few years now which has forced me khổng lồ think about english in a very… factual sense. Questions like these come up all the time and giving an UNDERSTANDABLE response is very important. And i personally hate idioms. To say “it is an idiom…deal with it” is very unencouraging.

So, in the case of try lớn & try and, i have sầu seperated the try-to try-and sets. I teach them asTry:-To : this show attemp of the actual verb.-& : this completely seperates the two và the try verb is the associated action of the sentence, whereas the verb after và is the alternative sầu or expected result depending on what impact the speaker is attempting to lớn make.

Try to succeed = success is tried in whatever topicTry and succeed = job, art, topic is tried with success expectedTry và fail = when a negative and verb is used, it typically indicates opposing outcomes.

Id greatly appriciate feedback if anyone reads this. By tin nhắn would be fine. My name at hotmail

steveon May 21, 2018 12:38 pm

You are amused, but only an english speaker can say cố idioms must not to follow a ngắn gọn xúc tích. I get the sense, & you are right in a sense but idiomatic expressions in any other language follow a kind of xúc tích, especially in latin or romance and indioeuropean languages…following angắn gọn xúc tích, French Spain Italian were “derived” from Latin.It is just a collateral effect of your culture which seems lớn have sầu difficulties to lớn put a logic in any language structure that you find amusing… actually, for a Latin speaker, or a German one or an Italian one like me, the English seems not to lớn follow any real logic, it appears to lớn be “completely idiomatic”, in a sense. And this is a limit, in another sense.

Maeveon May 22, 2018 4:28 pm

Steve sầu,I’m pretty sure that every language has idioms that can’t be explained logically.Chikokishion,I know from experience that ESL students (và many cranky native sầu speakers) want a “logical explanation” for everything. As a result, language teachers do their best to lớn provide one—even where none exists or matters very much. Language learners have enough on their plates lớn learn irregular verbs & pronoun usage. For the difference between “try and” and “try to,” I feel it’s enough to lớn tell them that “try and” and “try to” are often used with the same meaning in conversation, but that “try to” is preferred in formal writing.Here’s an interesting và thorough discussion of “try to” vs “try and” at an English forum:

Larry Kuckon July 23, 2018 2:02 am

This article discusses “to try & do” versus “khổng lồ try khổng lồ bởi.” In my way of thinking, “lớn try và do” makes no sense. for I will either TRY to vị it or I will DO it. I was surprised that we Americans tover to favor the “to lớn try lớn,” for I hear plenty of “khổng lồ try and” (explicit “and” and not the abbreviated “N” sound) on talk TV.

Not every “try and” is wrong-speak for “try lớn.” In a court of law, the prosecutor may want khổng lồ try the suspect before a judge and jury, confident that the evidence presented at trial will bring a Guilty outcome. Therefore, the Prosecutor may want khổng lồ try (hold a trial) & convict the suspect. If the suspect was convicted at trial, then indeed he was tried & convicted. The word “try” has several meanings, not just the one where I try to lớn help or try to do it.

I don’t buy the “idiom” designation for “khổng lồ try & vì chưng.” It is just wrong-speak, plain-and-simple. I would prefer to lớn say that I will try khổng lồ vì it, và my chances of success are good — I can feel it in my bones! (Now that is an idiom…..)

Andrew Breslinon January 15, 2019 6:21 pm

This sentence:

Two Judges Try & Fail lớn Shut Down Union Rights

means something entirely different than:

Two Judges Try to lớn Fail to Shut Down Union Rights

which highlights the reason writers should use “to” following try. Because if you use “and” it creates ambiguity. If I say “I may try và fail” I vày NOT mean, I may try lớn fail. If I wanted to lớn connote that i might try to lớn fail, I would say that.

“try and” has its place . . . in the sentence above sầu, where what is being expressed is that the subject tried (something) AND (something else . . . like fail)

Otherwise if the subject tried TO vì something, you should just use “lớn.” Because “to” is a preposition & that’s what it does, connects the one verb lớn the other verb. It’s not a conjunction that indicates addition, lượt thích the word “and”

Royon December 19, 2019 3:22 am

Try và vì chưng has a different meaning than try to vì chưng. Incorrectly using and where to is meant either completely changes the meaning or at least muddies the meaning. In cases where and is actually meant, substituting to very obviously changes the meaning, so it is absurd that the reverse substitution would be accepted as equivalent.

Dogon March 26, 20đôi mươi 4:05 am

The example of the judges trying and failing is not apropos lớn the question at hvà. The headline “Two Judges Try and Fail…” means exactly what is written. The substitution of try-to-fail completely changes the meaning to something unintended.

Whenever I read “try và ” I want khổng lồ ask the author why they didn’t Just Do It!? Why did they waste the ink & My Time telling me about their insecurities if they were ultimately good enough lớn Do It? Why would someone try to do something without the goal of actually doing it? It’s implied they first tried (oh, & did it!) or we wouldn’t even be reading about it!

Oppenheimeron April 26, 2020 12:11 pm

If language is rational, it involves some kind of súc tích. If I am allowed lớn use the lô ghích, I will try to use “try to” instead of “try and”. Period.