Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Grammar Tip: "Try and" vs. "Try to"

by Donna K. Weaver

Our own Laura Josephsen caught me on this one when she was reading my book, A Change of Plans. It's one of those things that, if we stop to think about it, makes perfect sense.

So, think about this commonly used idiom:

try and ....
Source: PowerPoint

Typically, what does the word "and" do? Doesn't it connect things?

I sing and dance

I try and ... fail? Okay, in this instance I can buy "try and".

But how about this:

I will try and call her.

I will try [what?] and call her. See what I mean? It's confusing. What makes sense is this:

I will try to call her.

Now it's clear the speaker is going to attempt something.

According to Grammar Girl, "try and" is acceptable in informal speech but should be avoided in formal writing. Well, I don't know about you, but I tend to write the way I speak (even if my editor doesn't believe me). 

I say to go for clarity. Every time.

Does this little bit of grammar trip you up? Do you think it's just a matter of time before we have a new grammar rule?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And while you're at it, don't forget to set aside July 12th & 13th for a wicked awesome writing conference. We've got a stellar list of presenters and topics, and it's so affordable! You can register at the top right. 


Gussie said...

This is a good reminder, Donna. I think it would be fine to use "I will try and..whatever" in dialogue because many people use that phrase. Something that still bothers me is "alright." It should be two words: all right. All right?

Konstanz Silverbow said...

This is wonderful. Haha it makes perfect sense and is rather embarrassing to thing that I say it incorrectly all the time, without even thinking about what I am actually saying.

Hoping I can make it to the conference!

Leigh Covington said...

I would really like to come to this. I'm going to mark my calendar and see if I can work it out! Thanks for the link Tristi! :) You are all wonderful!