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While reading a book, I met a sentence with a curious grammar construction which got me utterly confused. Here it is :

There is a curious corollary to the principle of trying to win the big pots right away (The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky).

I mean the structure "of trying to win the big pots". I this case "trying" plays a gerund role but I am not able to understand absolutely why the infinitive "to win" follows the gerund "trying".

I looked up all my grammar books in which I did not find any mention that it would be possible to use a gerund in conjunction with an infinitive. Could anyone tell me is that possible to use a gerund in conjunction with an infinitive. And if so, where could I read about such using a gerund?

I also wonder if it is possible to use such constructions:

  1. A gerund + any infinitive from a vocabulary

Promising to release her was a joke. After trying to achieve a bit better result he was completely exhausted.

  1. A gerund + a passive infinitive

His pretending to be exhausted was ridiculous.

  1. A gerund + a passive perfect infinitive

His behaving to have already been exposed seemed ludicrous

  1. A gerund + a negative passive infinitive

Her trying not to be seemed an amateur player exposed immediately.

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  • Yes: it's perfectly possible and quite common. The verb "try" (here, "trying") can take an infinitival complement or a gerund-participial one, depending on the intended meaning ("Try" in "You should trying to win" means 'endeavour', which fits in perfectly here. By contrast the "try" in "You should try winning" means 'test the effectiveness of'). Similarly in "I am hoping to win" where the complement of "hope" is restricted to an infinitival.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 15:42
  • Btw, I see that you have asked an identical question on at least two other grammar websites. By doing so you are likely to deter members on ELL from answering your question.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 17:03
  • I am terribly sorry, I have not known the rules as it is my first attempt to ask a really difficult question. I promise to respect all the rules in the future.
    – Makhmud
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 20:10
  • As regards a gerund, I have read a lot of articles, several English grammar books and watched a lot of Youtube-videos There was no information concerning using a gerund in conjunction with an infinitive. There are a lot of examples such as a gerund + an object (a noun) a gerund + an adverb a gerund + a prepositional phrase and no examples of using a gerund + an infinitive a gerund + a gerund.
    – Makhmud
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 20:10
  • Moreover, if a gerund can be used with an infinitive, then it is possible to make complicated phrases, as an infinitive can be negative, passive, progressive, perfect and perfect continuous. Alas, there is almost no information regarding that subject. Therefore, it is unknown if native speakers use sophisticated grammar constructions and if so, how they use. Thank you for the answer.
    – Makhmud
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 20:12

1 Answer 1

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The verb "try" can take an infintive complement. It is a member of a class of verbs that can be followed by infinitives:

want to play... / like to run / try to win ... etc.

The verb "try" can be in any form:

I try to win. I will try to win. I tried to win. I can try to win. I have tried to win. I would have tried to win. I will have been trying to win ...

Trying to win is important. In second place was John, trying to win but falling short. I want to try to win.

It is possible (though perhaps unadvisable) to form complex infinitives

trying not to win (good English); trying to be won (unlikely but acceptable); trying to be winning (odd, but grammatically correct); trying to have won (very odd); trying to have been winning (that's getting ridiculous, but it is grammatically correct.

This means that a monstrosity like

I will have been trying to have been winning.

Is grammatically correct. But I doubt it has ever actually been used. This isn't sophisticated, it is just unclear.

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  • Yes, you are absolutely right in your examples but I would like to convey my thought, that reading almost any grammar book or article, a learner cannot find examples how to use a gerund + an infinitive a gerund + a gerund. because there is almost no information regarding that subject. As an infinitive can be negative, passive, progressive, perfect and perfect continuous, it is possible to make complicated sentences when using a gerund + an infinitive together. Thank you for the answer.
    – Makhmud
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 20:13
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    There is no information on how to use "gerund+ infinitive" because this is irrelevant. This is "try"+infinitive and "try" happens to be in the "-ing" form. But the point of my answer is that it is irrelevant what form the verb "try" is in, it can always be completed by an infinitive. This is a property of the verb "try", not a property of the gerund.
    – James K
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 20:26
  • Thank you very much for explaining. I have understood the gist completely of what you meant in a previous message.
    – Makhmud
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 12:50

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