Page 54 of A Practical English Grammar reads

We often use and... instead of to after try / be sure. This is informal. I'll try and phone you tomorrow morning.

However, in page 299, it reads

To talk about making an experiment - doing something to see what will happen - we use try + -ing.

Aren't both statements at odds?enter image description here

Try and cannot come from try to in I'll try and phone you tomorrow morning since, as the picture from the book that's what you mean shows, try followed by infinitive to implies an effort to do something (at least in the present tense used in those examples), unlike try + -ing,


1 Answer 1


In many contexts you will find them used interchangeably. The difference in meaning is usually negligible, but in certain contexts it can be discerned.

  • If you try to do something, you directly attempt it.

  • If you try and do something, you attempt to find the time or means to do it.

For example, if someone asked me to attend an event and I said "I will try and get there", it would be an indication that I will attempt to be present. Saying "I will try to get there" would sound like I wasn't sure if I could complete the journey. However, if I used the verb to be and said "I will try to be there", this removes the journey element and makes it a binary choice - either I will be there, or I won't - and in this context the difference is not really discernable.

"I will try to call you" could mean you would attempt to make the call, dial the number etc; whereas "I will try and call you" would mean you will try to find the time or the means to call them. This is consistent with the image you posted captioned "try to call", as it depicts a man reaching for the telephone to make a call.

  • I think this is a spurious distinction. Strictly speaking, only try to is "correct", leading to the "Try and convict me!"" wordplay. May 3, 2021 at 13:32
  • @FumbleFingers Don't just think it is spurious - please be sure if you are going to downvote! The example you cite only proves my point. The quotation "try and convict me" is baiting someone to find the means with which to convict, not to actually begin proceedings (which ought not to be possible without evidence anyway).
    – Astralbee
    May 3, 2021 at 14:10
  • One finds Verb and Verb all over the place in English, and it is the same exact thing as Verb to Verb. So, they can each mean something different, or the speaker might mean the same thing using either.
    – Lambie
    May 3, 2021 at 14:13
  • @Lambie Agreed, this is the point I made in my opening words. But other times, there could be a perceived difference.
    – Astralbee
    May 6, 2021 at 12:14

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