1

Good morning everybody, I was wondering about this sentence: "I can't sleep for a while" the other person answers: "Try to count sheep / try counting sheep". Is there a real difference in this kind a sentence, or is it irrelevant?

4
  • 1
    When offering suggestion, prefer "try doing".
    – John Z. Li
    Apr 12, 2021 at 7:11
  • 1
    Is it more polite or something like that?
    – man del
    Apr 12, 2021 at 7:14
  • 2
    "try to do sth" implies "make an effort to do sth", while "try doing sth" implies "doing sth might be helpful" when giving a piece of advice.
    – John Z. Li
    Apr 12, 2021 at 7:19
  • 3
    Yes, there is a difference in meaning: "Try" In "Try to count sheep" means "endeavour", while in "Try counting sheep" it means "test the effectiveness of".
    – BillJ
    Apr 12, 2021 at 7:20

1 Answer 1

2

There is a slight difference. "Try to count sheep" suggests the person find out if they are able to count sheep. Maybe they are a child and are still learning how to count. Maybe they're so tired they may not be able to count well. "Try counting sheep" suggests the person find out if the act of counting sheep (which we assume the person is capable of) helps them go to sleep.

The difference is where the focus lies: "try to X" focuses on X, while "try [X]ing" focuses on the effects of [X]ing (where [X]ing is a gerund as in "try counting...").

The difference isn't really concrete though and both versions are completely understandable in context.

1
  • 2
    In other words, In "Try to count sheep" it means "endeavour", while in "Try counting sheep" it means "test the effectiveness of"
    – BillJ
    Apr 12, 2021 at 7:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .