Try TO do or try AND do? [ verb + and ]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Agnès E., Jul 23, 2005.

  1. Agnès E.

    Agnès E. Senior Member

    France
    France, French
    Bonjour!

    I wondered what form is the best:

    I try to do this properly
    I try and do this properly

    Some American friends of mine vote for "try to".
    What do you think?

    Moderator note: this very long thread is a merged version of five separate threads on the topic, including the latest by difficult cuss.
     
  2. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    "Try to."

    "Try and" is colloquial but unacceptable in formal, standard English. If you think about it, it doesn't even make sense! :)

    Same goes for "be sure to/and."
     
  3. Agnès E.

    Agnès E. Senior Member

    France
    France, French
    Thank you for your help, Elroy! :)
     
  4. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    "Try and" is probably too informal for writing, but it is very common here in speech. I don't think it is that nonsensical; to try can stand alone, so it can reasonably be used in a structure of parallel verbs:
    I can't read that.
    Try! (make an effort!)
    Try and read it! (Make an effort! Read it!)

    I DO think "Try TO read it" is preferred; I just don't think "try and" is completely illogical.
     
  5. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    At the risk of being uncloaked as a total curmudgeon, Elroy is absolutely correct, and my dear colleague Kelly is doing stretching exercises on behalf of users of the common but illiterate corruption of the infinitive.


    Try to comprehend, and comprehend that try to + verb is valid. Try and + verb is slovenly, though common. In fact common is a good adjective to describe the usage, in at least two of its meanings.

    Back to taking curmudgeon pills,
    Cuchu

    PS-try and smile, as this is meant to be mirthful. Or just try. Or just smile.

     
  6. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    But when you say "try and read it" you're not really trying to saying "make and effort and read it." That is, you are not requesting two separate actions (1. make an effort [temporarily ignoring the fact that the rest of that request is only implied anyway], and 2. read it). You are not commanding the person to read it. You are only asking him to "try to read it." One request, one verb.
     
  7. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I won't even try and top that superb description!
     
  8. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Try and understand-- idiom is not always susceptible to rational parsing. Doesn't make it "slovenly." Of course it's an AE/BE thing to some degree, so maybe we should try and get along, even if it seems standards are going woefully unupheld.

    I know a fairly well-spoken guy who uses the verbal "take and" where most of us would say, or even simply imply "do." "Then I took and threw it over my shoulder and walked off with it."

    Don't know which is more "common," that or-- "up and." As in, "his grammar was so slovenly I just about up and died."

    I'm gonna make sure and keep my ears peeled for other examples.
     
  9. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Sticklers? Come on now, fox. If you read my post closely, I did say that the usage was colloquial but not standard. I'm sorry, but if I were a teacher and you turned in a paper with "try and" in it, I wouldn't let that slide. It's simply incorrect English, regardless of whether it's used in everday speech.

    Furthermore, this is not an idiom. An idiom is either a phrase that cannot be translated literally into another language or a certain structure peculiar to a language that is not necessarily logical (cf. "depend on" in English vs. "depender de" in Spanish). This is obviously not the former, and it is an incorrect structure so it cannot be the latter by definition.

    That said, it is indeed slovenly in a formal context.

    Your well-spoken friend has my undying respect - provided he restricts his usage to speech and informal registers. Otherwise, I wouldn't be enthralled about having him proofread my papers for me.

    I would say "up" is more common - I had never heard or used the "take" structure before.
     
  10. jorge_val_ribera

    jorge_val_ribera Senior Member

    Bolivia
    Español
    Should I be alarmed because I was taught at school that "try and do something" was correct English? :eek:
     
  11. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Yes! :eek:

    You will not find this structure in any written work worth reading.

    You will hear it, yes, but it's not standard.
     
  12. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    "I'm a stickler for details" is something I'd say about myself, so don't read too much of the negative in my little essay. Teachers are sticklers, that's their job! I'll admit to a slight chafing sensation about "slovenly" and "common in both senses of the word." You may remember I touched on connotations of common as a pejorative in BE and a quasi-honorific term in AE-- it was in the thread on the word populace:

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=38667&page=2&pp=10&highlight=dead+common

    Not that I harbored any real animus over the criticism of "try and," even at that. A "sloven" is a loose woman in pre-Victorian English, and the word was synonymous with slatternly. I was having a bit of fun with my mock-umbrage, and delivering an apologia for stylistic sluts everywhere.

    Again, the stickler is just who you want as a teacher, particularly for beginners. So be sure and stick to your guns!
     
  13. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Good to know. It was hard to pinpoint whether you were a proponent of my objection or whether you were repudiating it.

    No animus on my part either. I'll try and read better into your posts in the future.
     
  14. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Well Elroy, don't you think that's a little sweeping? It's one thing to make note of what's grammatically correct, and set the student straight about what his instructors expect. But are you sure the work of great authors grows out of grammar texts and style manuals, and that nothing worth reading has come from the pens of writers who slip up from time to time and say "try and understand" or "try and fathom" or "try and sleep it off?"

    I'd've replied to you sooner, but excising the trash from my library and bringing it up to standards of readability took a bit longer than I thought. In fact, I think I hurt my back.

    You'll be dismayed to learn that not much worth reading has come out of British literature since the time of Milton-- well, Swift anyway. And I think one of the Bronte sisters passed muster. So, curiously enough, did Bernard Shaw-- some revolutionary he turned out to be.

    I'm not too surprised to see people like Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson fall short, as they wrote for children-- but doesn't that make their frailty all the more shocking? The same goes for writers an impressionable juvenile might enjoy-- P.G. Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle, E.M. Forster, Agatha Christie, Joseph Conrad...aw, not Dickens! And Lewis Carroll? Say it ain't so, Father Dodson!

    I don't imagine many lit students will mind seeing George Eliot thrown in the dustbin, and that ponderous old plodder, Thomas Hardy. And did anyone ever read Thackeray and Samuel Butler and Henry James? Well, I liked James a lot, but I also like my grits runny, and look how I turned out!

    Fortunately my library was a little scant on Galsworthy and Maugham and Chesterton and Edith Wharton, so I didn't have much of their verbiage to haul. But I hated to see D.H. Lawrence and Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf go-- what will tomorrow's rebellious youth read now, Pilgrim's Progress?

    It'll have to do instead of 1984, but I guess if you've read one allegory you've read them all. Having assigned Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" as a style text to my (college freshmen) Rhetoric students, I was shocked by the hypocrisy of my erstwhile icon of clarity and cogency-- penning fiction that violated the benchmark rule that all written works in English must follow, to merit a reading. I hope I didn't do all those students any harm, foisting a clod like Orwell on them.

    I'll be sure and do something to atone for it!
     
  15. Agnès E.

    Agnès E. Senior Member

    France
    France, French
    Thank you for your support, Jorge! :D
    And thank you to have made me smile, Cuchu! :)
     
  16. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Ouch!

    My statement was impetuous, of course. I was being too much of a stickler to consider the broader implications of the generalization I was so quick to espouse.

    Thank you for putting me in my place. I'll go back to my corner now and wallow in the aftermath of my aptly repudiated presumptuousness.
     
  17. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Well, well, well.

    I am so glad I didn't bounce in on this thread with what I thought was a very clear view that of course it should be try to, not try and.
    Ffb's comprehensive list of notable authors who have used try and rather took me by surprise.

    So off I went to look for something to support - well to support either view. And in the New Fowler's Modern English Usage (another of my favourite authorities on English) I found:
    "Arguments continue to rage about the validity of try and instead of try to...."
    Well I knew that:)

    In 1926, Fowler concluded: "try and is an idiom that should not be discountenanced, but used when it comes natural."
    The New Fowler reports on the usage of try and, with similar results to ffb's. He points out that many of the examples are from informal contexts or from non-British sources.
    Interestingly, he also points out the "impossibility" of using and with other parts of the verb: tries and, tried and, trying and.

    But he does not make any assertion about the rightness/wrongness of try and.

    So?
    I will continue to use try to, and I will probably continue to change try and to try to when that is appropriate:)
    But I really must rush off now to release the try and prisoners I have scheduled for execution tomorrow:D
     
  18. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    A little wallowing's good for you. I enjoy a bit of it too, from time to time.
     
  19. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    And just when I was about to trudge back into my library and tackle the even more daunting task of hauling off the American authors! I tried to haggle with the sanitation engineer over how much extra to pay, and he told me to go to the landfill. Roughly speaking.

    I guess it'd be easier just to lug the old worthies back in and restore them to their rightful places on the shelves. Close call!
     
  20. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    FFB...I'm a total stylistic slut when it comes to spoken language...the more spice and punch, the better. I eschew grammar when that helps drive a point home. However, written English, other than recorded or fictional dialogue, is not the same as street speech. I try to use a different register, unless I'm writing informally to friends. In that case, spoken and written styles converge into carefree slovenliness.

    I lament the ever more common tendency to commit spoken EN to writing, with all the 'wannas' and 'gunnas' the law of the streetcorner allows, and then claim that these usages are grammatically correct because every body (sic) does it. Street talk is fine on the corner or the stoop, and may have its place in writing as well. It is not, therefore, grammatically correct. It's slang, argot, jargon, familiar, or whatever classification fits. It's acceptable and useful in some circumstances. When the writer doesn't know the difference between standard English and street chatter, it's not slovenly. It's unfortunate.

    cheers,
    Cuchu


     
  21. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Bless your heart FFB. Now I don't have to burn my copies of Candy and Last Exit to Brooklyn. And my Tom Robbins collection can stay too! Whoopie!
     
  22. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I think there's a balance to be struck. I mentioned Orwell-- he makes the point that plain-spoken language works on the page, and has advantages over "formal" language when the whole idea of formality is perverted into the formulaic. Bureaucratese and "government-speak" are written languages that aim to transcend spoken forms, and obfuscation is not only the result-- it is often the deliberate aim of the "communication."

    Formal language abhors change because it has a responsibility to be a language of record. The challenge is to appropriate the salutory changes that do occur in the language, especially as dynamic and even slang-driven a language as English. Just as written "documentary" language can devolve into gobbledygook, changes in the spoken language can grow out of ignorance and laziness rather than creative innovation.

    None of what you say is a good defense of bad written "style," and it is ubiquitous-- or an effective proscriptive criticism of spoken language ably incorporated into written forms, including but not limited to dialogue embedded in fictional or documentary narrative.

    Gonna and kinda are what they are-- objections against them were once raised against contractions now considered standard. I'd've is correct now, but it was the kinda of 50 years ago. Also, I accept and even enjoy constructions that used to set my teeth on edge. I used to hate samwich, but after a couple of grad-level semesters of linguistics, I learned how fluid the human speech instrument is, and realized the [ndw] cluster was vestigial island that wouldn't last long in the new streambed. [mw] is an AE solution that's gaining traction-- why is that more to be decried than the BE solution to a similar [nw] problem, grennich?

    Well. I hope I picked an example with analogous potential-- for all I know you're miles ahead of me, and even say sammich! That far I'm prepared to go I guess, but not until I stop for a while and catch my breath.
     
  23. JazzByChas

    JazzByChas Senior Member

    Houston, TX USA
    American English
    I have often been amazed by the lack of correct diction used to express ideas in the English language.

    In particular, my question is about the above: which is correct?

    ex. 1) I am going to try and make my house payment on time.
    or
    ex. 2) I am going to try to make my house payment on time.

    I believe that no. 2 is correct.

    Opinions? Advice?
     
  24. mamboney

    mamboney Senior Member

    Rocky Mountains
    English (USA)
    My personal opinion (not that it matters) is that #2 is correct.
    If you substitute the verb try with another that is synonomous (such as attempt)

    You get:
    1) I am going to attempt and make my house payment on time.
    2) I am going to attempt to make my house payment on time.
     
  25. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    #2 is correct, Chas, but we are fighting a losing (lost?) battle against common usage, which frequently substitutes 'and' for 'to' following an infinitive. It's annoying to those who know English, but comfortable for millions who speak it without knowing it very well.
     
  26. JazzByChas

    JazzByChas Senior Member

    Houston, TX USA
    American English
    Must agree, amigo mio...

    Sadly the English language is becoming corrupted by bad usage, but that is life in this ever changing world...:(

    P.S. Good example, Mamboney! :thumbsup:

     
  27. coconutpalm

    coconutpalm Senior Member

    Shanghai, China
    Chinese,China
    He stretched out his arm to try and reach the apple.
    Does it mean that "he managed to reach" or that "he tried to reach"?
    What's the difference between "try to do" and "try and do"? Or are they exchangeable?
     
  28. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    This question was answered in a wonderful thread some time ago. How fondly I remember cleaning out my library that day.
    .
     
  29. Hi Coconut Palm,

    It means he tried to reach the apple. We don't know if he was successful.

    "Try to do", "Try and do".

    Grammatically "try and do" is incorrect. The verb is "try to do (something)".

    I will try to do some work today. :tick:

    I will try and do some work today. :cross:

    Colloquially, "try and do" is used and accepted. There is no theoretical difference in meaning.

    To try and reach is correct (it doesn't involve the word "do").

    Edit: I'm beginning to have doubts about "to try and reach". I think it should be "to try to reach" (grammatically). Colloquially it would be acceptable.

    Hope that is clear for you.


    LRV
     

  30. What a lot of discussion it provoked FFB! Most interesting. You have an excellent memory - it was nearly a year ago!



    LRV
     
  31. coconutpalm

    coconutpalm Senior Member

    Shanghai, China
    Chinese,China
    LRV, fox, thanks for your replies! I've read the thread and know more about my second question.
    Then could you answer my first question?
     
  32. I did, Coconut Palm, in post 3. :)





    LRV
     
  33. coconutpalm

    coconutpalm Senior Member

    Shanghai, China
    Chinese,China
    Yes, LRV, I read your post, but the words you used are too hard for me
    Let me have a guess: you mean you don't approve of the usage of "try and do", do you?
    And what do you mean by"Back to taking curmudgeon pills"——you stick to your ideas so other people may think you are stubborn?
     
  34. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    He tried to reach the apple.
    That's all we know.
    He may have succeeded.
    He may have fallen off the ladder.

    The key point is that " ... to try and reach ..." does NOT mean that he tried AND he reached.

    It is simply another way of saying "... to try to reach ...".

    As will be clear from the posts on this thread, and the fascinating trip down memory lane that foxfirebrand has provided for us, there are many people who consider the try and form incorrect.
     
  35. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I submit that it is a way of saying "try to" that injects a little optimism, even hints that the effort will succeed.

    "Try to" carries an element of uncertainty, even a challenge-- "you just try!"

    The aversion in BE to a well-accepted AE idiom may have cultural or temperamental overtones. A nation comprised almost entirely of the descendents of refugees and emigrants would only naturally say "try and do" something.
    .
     
  36. beppo Senior Member

    Venice
    Italian
    Which one is correct or preferable ?
    I'll try and come to the party tonight
    I'll try to come to the party tonight

    I tried to call you but the line was busy
    I tried and call you but the line was busy

    Thanks in advance
     
  37. nay92 Member

    London
    English, England
    Hope that helps
     
  38. beppo Senior Member

    Venice
    Italian
    Sure it helps , thanks
     
  39. Porteño Member Emeritus

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    I agree with nay92
     
  40. Gordonedi

    Gordonedi Senior Member

    Strathaven
    UK (Scotland) English
    You are most welcome.
    Ciao !
     
  41. JamesM

    JamesM modo no mas :)

    I'll try and come to the party tonight :cross: (but commonly spoken)
    I'll try to come to the party tonight :tick:

    I tried to call you but the line was busy :tick:
    I tried and call you but the line was busy :cross: (not even commonly spoken)
     
  42. Porteño Member Emeritus

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    Hi, JamesM. What's wrong with 'I'll try and come to the party tonight'
     
  43. JamesM

    JamesM modo no mas :)

    It sets up a conflict. The second half of the sentence says you will come to the party tonight. The first half says you'll "try." The two are connected by "and". How can both be true? :) Are you coming to the party or not? The issue is around the "and" - what is it doing there? What is it joining?

    "I'll try to come" means that you will attempt to come. You may not be successful in your attempt, but you will make the attempt.

    Nevertheless, "I'll try and come" is a common way to express it.

    "and come" can make sense in other sentences. "Hurry up and come to the party!" This is someone urging someone else to to do two things - "hurry up" and "come to the party." But "try and (do something)" doesn't really make sense. You're doing one or the other, not both.
     
  44. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    I agree. You often hear "I'll try and come..." but the word "and" is properly used as a connector of words, phrases, etc. and "come" means "to proceed", "to move toward", "to arrive by movement", etc. Accordingly, you will make an effort to go/come to the party tonight. You will attempt to go/come to the party. You will try to go/come to the party.

    Used correctly but in a longer sentence, you might say "I'll try to come to the party tonight and I'll bring a case of beer with me."

    Sorry if I can't quote the grammar rules but I'm positive "to" is the correct word - can somebody else do the rules for me????
     
  45. Porteño Member Emeritus

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    I think it's splitting hairs to divide the two verbs and imply separate actions - I'll try and come' means exactly what it says - 'I'll do my best to be there'
     
  46. JamesM

    JamesM modo no mas :)

    To each his own. :) But what it actually says is: "I'll do my best and be there." ;) It's interesting to me that you would use the "to" to explain the "and".
     
  47. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    Indeed it is. I think splitting hairs is probably what beppo was looking for when he asked the question here.

    Is try and come idiomatic? Absolutely. Americans say it all the time, and this is a useful answer to someone trying to speak like a native.

    Is try and come grammatically correct? Not really, for the reason JamesM offered. Try to come is the better answer to someone preparing for an English exam.

    Our answers are read by non-native speakers of both categories, so we should try to offer answers that are useful for both.
     
  48. Porteño Member Emeritus

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    The truth is JamesM is that I've probably never even given it a thought. It's an expression that I've been using all my life, at least, as far as I can remember! 'Try to' and 'try and' in this context have always been synonymous as far as I'm concerned.
     
  49. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    The protocol around here is to use the search feature at the top of the page to "try and" find previous threads that might answer your questions. It saves a lot of time and effort, and makes the forum threads more efficient in their interactive function in the WR dictionaries.

    We covered "try and vs try to" very thoroughly.
    .
    .
     
  50. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Thanks Mr. Fox... That was indeed a fun thread.
    Side note-- If you're gonna try and post links you find with Search, please delete the "&highlight" part at the end. Those links expire pretty quickly. This one may last a while longer:

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=39951

    This is a link to the same thread Mr. Fox provided.

    As Ella Fitzgerald sang so nicely, "I'm gonna sit right down an write myself a lettttttttter..."
     

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