Try to vs. Try and

Posted: March 4th, 2014, 1:58 pm   By: brittany.corners

“During high school, I played junior hockey and still hold two league records: most time spent in the penalty box; and I was the only guy to ever take off his skate and try to stab somebody.”—Adam Sandler, in the antediluvian days when he was still funny

This week we explain the difference between try to and try and.

We don’t always live in an either/or world: sometimes you can have both. For instance, masters of the mystic arts have long claimed the power of bilocation, the ability to be in two places simultaneously. Quantum physics explains that electrons exist in many states at the same time. If you travel in the right circles, you might even hear the rumors about the shadowy man who can have his cake and eat it too.

Likewise, some reputable sources on grammar will tell you that you can use either try to or try and—that both phrases are correct. My friend, one way is correct-er than the other.

What’s The Problem?

We have a simple reason why any writer should use try to instead of try and: verb inflection.

When you’re not inflecting the verb try, it’s OK to use either try to or try and. Consider the following examples:

  • Only haters try to tell Rick Ross to wear a shirt.
  • The Bassetts said they will try and make ridiculous plaster paw prints with their next dog—before the coyotes rip it apart too.

However, once you inflect the verb try (as with “tries,” “trying,” or “tried”) and use the word and, you can end up creating grammatical oddities:

  • I tried and watch the trailer for Die Hard 5, but I got so excited I punched through my laptop screen.
  • Dick was trying and say something, but Jane couldn’t understand him because his little mouth was stuffed full of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

See? Each of these sentences would work if you changed the “and” into “to.” Because try and only works in certain grammatical situations, avoid potential problems and stick with try to.

Now pass the Flamin’ Hots.