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'try to open' vs 'try opening'

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ddubug, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. ddubug Senior Member

    Korea
    Hi,

    Could you tell me the difference between....

    1. I tried to open the window.
    2. I tried opening the window.

    There must be some difference. But my American friends say, 'No.'
    I can't understand how these are same when the way stated is different.

    Please help.
     
  2. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Hello ddubug,

    The meaning is identical for me. The style differs. The infinitive form sounds a little more formal. Both forms are used in speech and in writing.
     
  3. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    What if I add 'but I couldn't.' Does that change anything?

    3. I tried to open the window, but I couldn't.
    4. I tried opening the window, but I couldn't.
     
  4. morior_invictus

    morior_invictus Senior Member

    Slovak
    Hi wolfbm1. Your first sentence sounds better to me in your context, since "to try + infinitive" refers to the action that is very often unsuccessful.

    I tried to open the window, (but I couldn`t). = I attempted to open the window, (but I couldn`t).
    I tried opening the window, (but I couldn`t). = I was interested in knowing what the result of opening the window would be, (but I couldn`t).

    Some may have a different opinion.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  5. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    In BE, and in the absence of any other context:

    I tried to open the window = I made an attempt, to see if I could open the window or not.
    I tried opening the window = I opened the window to see what the result would be.
     

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