I have been studying English with pop songs. And now the song is "Ariana Grande - Break Free ft. Zedd "

She sings "tried to (hide it)", that sounds to me "/trάɪ də .../"


I can't tell it's "tried to" or "try to."

Is there difference between the pronunciation of "tried to" and that of "try to"? If so, please help me to understand the difference.

  • Yes there is a difference. The to is obviously the same. Try and Trie are the same, except Trie isn't a word. The d at the end of trie is a d sound. Like duh. You could also look at it sounding like tryd. So try and tryd obviously sound different at the end, one has the sound at the end. – CRABOLO Nov 10 '14 at 2:07
  • @cVplZ While your answer is correct, you missed out on the "Be nice." part of the Stack Exchange network. – Jason Patterson Nov 10 '14 at 3:07
  • @JasonPatterson can you elaborate on the "missed out on the "Be nice." part" part? – John Dvorak Nov 10 '14 at 8:00
  • @JasonPatterson I didn't mean "Like duh." as "duh, so easy, how didn't you know that?" I meant it like the d at the end kind of sounds like duh. I'm not the best at the pronunciation writing. – CRABOLO Nov 10 '14 at 8:01

Your hearing of her pronunciation is correct, the words of her song were:

If you want it, take it. I shoulda said it before.
Tried to hide it, fake it. I can't pretend anymore.

But her pronunciation matched "try to" the way that American English speakers actually pronounce the words, almost as one word, try-da. Unfortunately it is very similar to the way that we pronounce "tried to," tryd-da.

However, "Try to" also works here perfectly well. When I listened to the song, I actually heard, "Try to" rather than "Tried to," and I'm a native English speaker. I scrounged all over the internet looking for an official copy of the lyrics to make sure.

Speaking clearly the difference between the two would be fairly obvious and the "d t" would be significantly different sounds. In rapid conversation or in singing, those hard t's quickly become softer d's and it all blends together.

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  • I really appreciated. and even if I can't distinguish the two "try(d) to", I study and make a guess from the context. – Go Tyosyu Nov 10 '14 at 7:34

In many languages, pronunciation of song lyrics is often influenced more by the rhythmic requirements of the music than by grammatical considerations. Unless the note for a syllable ending in a consonant is followed by a rest, the consonant will often be pushed to the beginning of the next note. Thus, "truth is marching" would be sung as "true thi smar ching". In cases where a syllable starts with the same, or almost the same, consonant as the previous syllable ends ("d" and "t" qualify as "almost the same"), it is very common to omit the ending consonant from the earlier syllable.

In the text at issue, things are probably further muddled by the fact that in English, the absence of a present-tense clause or coordinating conjunction defining a time of interest, the simple present tense of many verbs (including "to try") has a meaning closer to the imperfect tense. "I try to do X" generally means "I have been trying to do X and continue to do so"; someone who had not yet put any effort into trying to do X would likely say "I will try to do X", while someone who is actively putting effort into X would say "I am trying to do X". Someone who was no longer trying to do X would say "I had tried to do X" or "I have tried to do X". Thus, in many contexts, the meaning of "try to" and "tried to" are almost synonymous. While singers may sometimes deviate from normal vocal practice to avoid ambiguities with words that sound similar but have different meaning, the semantic difference between "try to" and "tried to" would likely be insufficient to justify pronouncing the latter differently from the former.

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