[Ads-l] _try to_ vs. _try and_

William Salmon wnsalmon at D.UMN.EDU
Tue Nov 8 15:47:48 UTC 2016

> ------------------------------------------------------------
> -------------------
> Was anyone else specifically taught that _try to_ is "correct," whereas
> _try and_ is "incorrect"? It was like, you know, on the final.

"try and" is completely natural to me, as a non-British speaker of Texan
English. I don't ever recall being specifically taught that it was correct
or not, or corrected to "try to"; in fact, it has until now flown
completely under the radar for me as something I say at all.

I find it fits more naturally into situations where I am little less
serious about what I will be trying. In (ii), then, the test seems as if it
is more important to me.
(i) I'm gonna try and pass the test.
(ii) I'm gonna try to pass the test.

Similarly, "try and" works better for me if I'm suggesting action to
another person. I would be much more likely to say (iii) than (iv), which
seems more face threatening.

(iii) Why don't you try and fix the car.
(iv)  Why don't you try to fix the car.

I don't know if this means there is a semantic/truth conditional
difference. It could be an interaction of pragmatics and register
switching, too.

> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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