[Ads-l] _try to_ vs. _try and_

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 8 14:05:50 UTC 2016

And for those who listen to podcasts, try this one from Lexicon Valley
(discusses Fowler et al.):


On Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 7:08 AM, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu>

> discussion from Wilson Gray, Robin Hamilton, and now David Daniel, all
> starting this topic as if no one had ever considered it before.
> PLEASE PLEASE start with the sources, in particular Merriam-Webster's
> Dictionary of English Usage, a volume everyone on this list ought to have
> (it's not at all expensive) and consult.
> MWDEU has a substantial entry on _try and_.  it's been common in print for
> nearly two centuries now, in both the UK and North America.  yes, it's an
> idiom (but why is that somehow a count against it?).  yes, it's often in
> alternation with _try to_ (but why would anyone claim that there should be
> no variant usages?).  yes, it's more common in speech than in writing (but
> why should that somehow be a count against it?).
> MWDEU's entry ends with this quote from Fowler 1926 -- yes, *that* Fowler,
> in *1926*:
>    It is an idiom that should be not discountenanced, but used when it
> comes natural.
> there is probably no truth-functional difference between _try and_ and
> _try to_, but the two often differ in more subtle ways -- consequeces of
> the fact that _try to V_ is hypotactic (and connotes a close, tight
> relationship between the denotations of _try_ and V), while _try and_ is
> paratactic (and connotes a looser relationship between these denotations).
> and they tend to differ registrally.
> if you don't like _try and_, don't use it; everyone has irrational
> prejudices, and you're entitled to yours.  but don't piss on people -- LIKE
> ME -- who do use it; there's nothing wrong with us or with the way we talk..

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