He tried ________ (work) in a newspaper firm but he still wasn't satisfied.

These variants are wrong: working / to work / work / having worked

What is the correct form of (work)?

  • 2
    I think that website is broken. "Working" and "to work" are valid answers, and I can't think of any other forms, like passive, perfect, continuous etc. that fit.
    – gotube
    Nov 4, 2022 at 18:49
  • 1
    -Ing should be the answer
    – Sam
    Nov 4, 2022 at 18:50
  • 1
    The most salient verb form is "working".
    – BillJ
    Nov 4, 2022 at 18:56
  • 1
    @gotube The correct answer is 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 (NOT 'to work') There is a difference between 'tried working' and 'tried to work'. He tried working means he worked. But He tried to work means he could not work. Nov 4, 2022 at 19:17
  • 1
    If you try doing something, the implication is that you were in fact able to do it, even if this didn't achieve what you wanted. For example, I tried driving to work, but the traffic was so bad I was late. If you try to do something, the implication is you weren't actually able to do it at all (or at least, not properly). For example, I tried to drive to work, but my car wouldn't start. Nov 4, 2022 at 19:17

3 Answers 3


What makes you think those are all wrong? The first three are right and commonly used and the fourth is unusual but valid.

"He tried working in a newspaper ..." This is exactly what most Americans would say. It means he got a job at a newspaper and tried it out.

"He tried to work in a newspaper ..." Also valid but a little ambiguous. Most readers would understand it to mean that he tried to get a job at a newspaper but couldn't get such a job. Or that he got the job but couldn't perform the required tasks. It could also mean the same as "he tried working".

"He tried work in a newspaper ..." Also valid and same as "working". Technically different grammar. "He tried working ..." means he attempted the task. "Working" is a verb. In "He tried work ...", "work" is a noun, so you're saying he tried the thing instead of he tried the action. In this example both mean the same thing. There are many words in English that can't be used as both a verb and a noun. Like you could say, "He tried eating fruit ..." but you can't say "He tried eat fruit ..." because "eat" cannot be used as a noun.

"He tried having worked at a newspaper ..." "Having [verb]" is usually used to mean that some pre-condition was met. Like, "Having completed all graduation requirements, George was given a diploma." So it's possible here. "He tried having worked ... but ..." He met the condition -- working in a newspaper -- but he still wasn't satisfied. But it sounds awkward to me. Maybe there some technical grammar rule that it breaks that I'm not thinking of.


I can confirm the test has an error in it. I was curious (and procrastinating from my work) so I looked at the javascript source code, and found the answer it was expecting for question 17 was getting. Obviously very wrong (getting is not a form of work) - the correct answer should have been working, as others have pointed out.

screenshot of broken test with one correct (but wrong) answer

My guess is that the answers text missed out a slash, and getting was actually supposed to be one answer option for the previous question (16).

  • I think you're mistaken. As so often happens with TEFL tests set by non-native Anglophones, it's a rubbish test - because both answers are perfectly valid. Well, actually, getting is somewhat more "likely" in the real world than to get. In principle they could mean different things, but in practice but he still wasn't satisfied implies they both carry exactly the same meaning anyway. Nov 4, 2022 at 19:22
  • What exactly do you think I'm mistaken about? I just posted the answer the test code would have marked as correct, whilst pointing out that (obviously) "getting" is not a form of "work"... I also pointed out that this was probably supposed to be an option for question 16. You seem to be saying exactly the same thing. Nov 4, 2022 at 19:25
  • Your answer appears to say that getting is not a "correct" answer. The truth is that all options are syntactically valid - it's just that as @Geoff points out below, it's not easy to come up with a context where having worked would work (in a way that makes sense with ...but he still wasn't satisfied) Nov 4, 2022 at 19:30
  • 1
    My answer is quite clearly saying getting is an incorrect answer for question 17. The test asks you to enter a form of "work", but marks "getting" as correct for question 17. Nov 4, 2022 at 19:33
  • I have edited my answer for even more clarity. I invite you to re-read it and then remove your downvote. Nov 4, 2022 at 19:43

Correct: He tried working...

Try + ing- do something as an experiment or test

[ Try to work- attempt to work ]

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