I was told that "to try to V" means "to make an effort to V," while "to try Ving" means "to give the specified action a try." Suppose I am giving advice on eating healthily. Which of the following makes sense?

Try to make your meal plans exciting.

Try making your meal plans exciting.

  • @Mari-LouA The answers show the two sentences are similar to the extent that they are not easily distinguished. I doubt general comments on "try to do" and "try doing" are useful here.
    – Apollyon
    Dec 28, 2022 at 1:59

2 Answers 2


They really mean the same thing.

If I had not seen your meal plans yet, I might say the first sentence to suggest that you keep this in mind as you create your meal plans.

If I had seen your meal plans and I didn't think they were very exciting, I might say the second sentence as more of a direct suggestion for how to improve.

But they are essentially the same.


They are very similar.

The only subtle differences are:

  • "try to make" usually means that success in "making your meal plans exciting" isn't guaranteed. The essence of this sentence is that you are attempting to "making your meal plans exciting", perhaps as a test.

  • "try making" usually means that you're stuck in another problem that you're trying to resolve; thus, maybe "making your meal plans exciting" would be the solution to that other problem. The possibility of this usage in this context would be maybe a child starts crying because he/she doesn't like or is bored with the meal plans, then you "try making your meal plans exciting" so that maybe he/she will cheer up.

In my opinion, using "try to make" would suit this context a bit more:

Try to make your meal plans exciting.

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