Which Is Correct: “Try And” Or “Try To”?

No doubt you had your share of teachers who were grammar sticklers. Maybe it was that  charismatic professor who inspired your love of literature or the dedicated Latin teacher who also grilled you on grammar rules (hi, Doc!)—but chances are you’ve got a little voice in your head that pops up every once in a while to remind you of “The Rules.”

Well, we’re here to settle a debate that the grammar sticklers in your life love: whether try and or try to is correct. And we’re here to tell you that both can be acceptable. (Shhhhh!)

When to use try to

Try and and try to are contractions used to describe an attempt:

 

  • I will try to fix the leaky faucet.
  • Ravi will try and fix the broken window.

Try to is the favorite in this debate, with many grammarians arguing that it’s the only correct option. This construction is standard usage and appropriate for all levels of formality in both speech and writing.

Examples of try to in a sentence

  • I’m busy right now, but I’ll try to rake the yard this afternoon.
  • The boy tried to write in cursive.
  • Can you try to move this box?

When to use try and

Grammarians have long labeled try and as incorrect, when really it is just informal and best used in conversation. They argue that because an infinitive follows the verb (i.e. try to fix, try to rake), the to is essential.

But this overlooks the fact that try and has been used in many of the same contexts as try to since at least the 1500s. Also, similar constructions drop the to. The word go drops the to in favor of andgo and talk to Lisa. (Go to talk to Lisa just sounds odd.)

According to Fowler’s Modern English Usage, try and “is an idiom that should not be discountenanced, but used when it comes natural.” And this “natural” use, he notes, is “almost confined to exhortations and promises,” which are more common in informal than in formal contexts.

In most cases, try and is interchangeable with try to. But there are some contexts in which try and implies success (do try and behave) and others where try and is ironic and implies failure (try and make me move).

Examples of try and in a sentence

 

  • She will try and visit her sister today.
  • Please, try and control your temper.
  • The teacher asked the students to try and complete the more challenging math problems.

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