HomeQ&A"Try and say" vs. "Try to say"

"Try and say" vs. "Try to say"

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Beunos dias,

I thank you for the video podcasts. Virtually everything about them is quite outstanding. They have become a very valuable and effective resource for me. You may have noticed, however, that I wrote 'virtually everything.' Sadly, I allow myself to be grated at hearing English misused, even when the misuse seems universally consistent. In this case, it is when Paralee uses "and" following "try," as in 'try and say ...' This is absolutely wrong, except in a very few unique situations. The correct sequence is 'try TO say' or 'try TO read' or 'try TO xxx where xxx is the infinitive of virtually any verb of which you can think. Yes, it is common in speaking, and that is so because most people are lazy speakers (it's difficult to say two T-words in sequence.) Unfortunately, it is now creeping into writing.

I'm not expecting you to rerecord all the lessons, but I wanted to bring this flaw to your attention in case you have the opportunity to correct it in the future.

I am years away from being able to express the above in Spanish, however, SpanishDict is one resource that will be in my kit as I move toward such literacy.

Mucho gracias y adios

4231 views
updated JUN 1, 2009
posted by Brian-Williams

16 Answers

0
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Hmmm...."Yes, he tried and saw me" I'm afraid is not English. "Yes, he tried to see me" would be the correct reply.

The asterisk before the sentence with "tried and..." means that the sentence is unacceptable grammatically. Sorry, it is an usual notation used in linguistics; I should have explained it.

By the way, in English, "Hello,", using a comma after "Hello", is correct, but in Spanish, after "Hola", you must use the colon (which is the logical thing to do):

Hola:
Hola:
Hola:
Hola:
Hola:

updated JUN 1, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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Hola,

Having looked at most of the examples where the argument was for 'try and,' I find that the "try" was not for the same action as the "and." In these cases (and one has to look at them carefully), the admonishment was to try xxx (xxx is often implied rather than expressed) with AND bringing in the result of the effort (i.e. yyy rather than xxx) - in other words try (xxx) and (possibly achieve) yyy.

Regardless, that's enough from me on this subject. I need to spend my limited time on Spanish.

Adios

updated MAY 30, 2009
posted by Brian-Williams
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Good morning,

I have no idea how an educator might score this - I have heard many "educators" mess the language in other way (e.g. Mary and me are going shopping. A lot of people regularly misuse object pronouns where subject pronouns are required, and vice versa - Mom gave some cake to Tom and I. It's almost like a disease.)

I suspect what the real problem with the TRY TO is that it is a minor tongue twister - TRY AND flows more smoothly; the gyrations of the tongue and mouth are less complex.

Similarly, it would seem that a lot of people can't simply HAVE, as in "I have a pen." Most people would say (and write) "I've got a pen." Throwing GOT into the sentence introduced a hard G that audibly emphasizes the point.

Another problem area is in pluralization. Contractions, such as "there's (there is)" is so pervasive that 'there're' or 'there are' are not being used where they should (e.g. 'There's Tom and Sally' - while wrong, flows off the tongue much more smoothly than 'There are Tom and Sally' or 'There're Tom and Sally.')

These are a few of the foibles with English - I'm sure that every language has some similar, and I suspect the largest impetus for their "evolution" is the manner of the spoken word (i.e. the sound) rather than the written word.

All this from a 60 year old guy who is effectively unilingual English, and never gave language much serious thought until his latter decades. I very much admire multi-lingual people, and languages that have colleges who try to maintain some purity to the language. I suspect that I am most impressed with French and it's extensive use of accents. When I look at the current Vietnamese written text, I see the brilliance of using the accented Roman character set to visually represent the spoken language, better enabling a person who knows exactly how each accented character is to sound to be able to speak Vietnamese words.

I'm trying to learn some Spanish for an upcoming week-long vacation to Spain (Costa del Sol), and, hopefully, for a Canadian-winter escape to Buenos Aires in February next.

Adios

updated MAY 30, 2009
posted by Brian-Williams
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The bottom line is that speech must be logical in the the string of words used (although the substance of the speech need not be logical). It is simply illogical to suggest one try AND do something - you either DO or you TRY TO DO.


I disagree (although I would prefer that language were logical). One observes in common speech frequent violations of agreement in number (subject vs verb), case (subjective that should be objective and vice versa). In the specific case that you mention, a distinction can be made between doing something that requires little or no effort (one, simply does it) and trying to do something and succeeding (in which case, the fact that it required a [considerable] effort may be quite as germane as the the fact that one was successful. Notice, particularly the example in the article cited by Heidita that referred to the distinction between "Try and make me!" vs "Try to make me!"

updated MAY 29, 2009
posted by samdie
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Don't know if this settles anything, but just yesterday I was reading a book by a famous British historian (Richard J. Evans - The Third Reich in Power) and he does use "try and" in contexts where people here have been saying it's wrong. For instance, "Hitler tried and changed the rules...".

Just goes to show that nobody is an authority when it comes to language...

I agree, nobody is a complete expert on languages because they change all the time. The more people that can be encouraged to look at a particular problem - the greater the understanding. That is why I enjoy reading your posts Heitor.

updated MAY 29, 2009
posted by Mark-Baker
0
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Don't know if this settles anything, but just yesterday I was reading a book by a famous British historian (Richard J. Evans - The Third Reich in Power) and he does use "try and" in contexts where people here have been saying it's wrong. For instance, "Hitler tried and changed the rules...".

Just goes to show that nobody is an authority when it comes to language...

updated MAY 29, 2009
posted by 00719c95
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I'm trying to learn some Spanish for an upcoming week-long vacation to Spain (Costa del Sol), and, hopefully, for a Canadian-winter escape to Buenos Aires in February next.

Adios

that's great Brian. smile

Do have a look at our flashcards, they have a lot of sets on travel etc.

travel

hmmm, there is actually only this one set. If you have ideas or words you think might be useful, please let me know and I will create a set for you grin

updated MAY 29, 2009
posted by 00494d19
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Brian, this has been especially interesting for me. Even though it seems to be a common use in England too, I had never heard it before.

It may be very colloquial but would not be accepted in exams for example over here. Would it be in your country or would that me marked as a mistake, say in a language test'

updated MAY 29, 2009
posted by 00494d19
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Buenos dias,

This has become quite a discussion, but as I read the comments of others, I see that I hadn't well enough explained the problem with "try and..."

If I "try to write," then that is what I am doing - trying to write. However, if I 'try AND write,' then I am writing, and trying is superfluous - trying is irrelevant because I am doing (in this case writing). In every case of which I can currently think, if one uses 'try AND xxx,' the reality is that the trying is unnecessary because xxx is being done. E.G. Try AND run to the store - what's to try? you are directed to run. Similarly in 'try and eat the food' one is being told to eat the food (AND demands both actions - TRY and EAT), the trying part is irrelevant. When one succeeds at something, then success speaks for itself - the trying that led to the success is not noteworthy.

Try and learn - how does one both try AND learn? One either learns or does not learn. If one is successful, he/she will report that he/she learned Spanish - that was the objective. You wouldn't report that you tried and learned - the trying component of the learning is beyond obvious if one is successful. If one is not successful, then one might report I tried AND failed, or I tried BUT failed (one would hope that one would not try TO fail).

The bottom line is that speech must be logical in the the string of words used (although the substance of the speech need not be logical). It is simply illogical to suggest one try AND do something - you either DO or you TRY TO DO.

Los mejores deseos.

updated MAY 29, 2009
posted by Brian-Williams
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I am from the South in the US, so sometimes it is hard to hide my heritage when it comes to pronunciation, sayings, etc.

Are you trying to say that those of us from the South have less than perfect diction? Look here, Missy...where's your Rebel pride? Long live the Confederacy! grin

updated MAY 29, 2009
posted by 0074b507
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*These adjuncts are noteworthy in that the semantic relation is alternatively realized by coordinated clauses, especially in rather informal usage (pseudo-coordination)

She'll come and see you (about it).

I went and visited my mother.

He must try and do better (next time).

[...]

With try, no finite verb coordination is possible:

Did he try and see you?

'Yes, he tried and saw me.*

A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language

Hmmm...."Yes, he tried and saw me" I'm afraid is not English. "Yes, he tried to see me" would be the correct reply.

"You must try to do better". Is the correct sentence because there is only one action involved not two ie try doing better is 1 action.
"He must try and do better" is re arranged into "He must do better than that".

However "try and say" is used frequently in England since it implies in a friendly way that the speaker wants to encourage people primarily to "make an attempt" at something and then "to say", as if the task were broken down into 2 easy stages rather than one action.
Although the correct sentence is "try to say...." lol.

updated MAY 29, 2009
posted by Mark-Baker
0
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*These adjuncts are noteworthy in that the semantic relation is alternatively realized by coordinated clauses, especially in rather informal usage (pseudo-coordination)

She'll come and see you (about it).
I went and visited my mother.
He must try and do better (next time).

[...]

With try, no finite verb coordination is possible:

Did he try and see you?
'Yes, he tried and saw me.*

A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language

updated MAY 28, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
0
votes

I have found this very interesting article on this subject. With your permission, Brain and Paralee, I will move this to "vocabulary" as I find this a very interesting discussion.
http://www.alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxtryand.html

WDEU suggests that "try and" may actually be older than "try

to"; both are first attested in the 17th century.

Fascinating.

And I found this :

The American Heritage® Book of English Usage.

A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English. 1996.

  1. Word Choice: New Uses, Common Confusion, and Constraints

§ 290. try and

The phrase try and is commonly used as a substitute for try to, as in Could you try and make less noise? A number of grammarians have labeled the construction incorrect. To be sure, the usage is associated with informal style and strikes an inappropriately conversational note in formal writing. Sixty-five percent of the Usage Panel rejects its use in written contexts as presented in the sentence Why don't you try and see if you can work the problem out between yourselves'

updated MAY 28, 2009
posted by 00494d19
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HI Paralee, nice to see you around. smile

I wonder if this is an "American" thing though. I had not heard try use without to.

updated MAY 28, 2009
posted by 00494d19
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Brian,
This is kind of embarrassing! I never even realized I did that, so thank you for the note. When I write my scripts I will certainly try TO keep it in mind. I am from the South in the US, so sometimes it is hard to hide my heritage when it comes to pronunciation, sayings, etc. But I want everyone to have a good model for how both English and Spanish are spoken, so please don't hesitate to let me know if you notice anything else.
All the best,
Paralee

updated MAY 28, 2009
posted by Paralee
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