What is the difference?

To try doing something
Try to do something

I found that try + infinitive means: make an effort to achieve something while try + -ing means: do something as an experiment to solve a problem.

Why don't you try holding your breath for a minute or two?
Why don't you try to hold your breath for a minute or two?

The answer key indicates that the meanings of these two sentences are different. How are they different?

  • Is 'here' that book again? Try here instead. And this is homework - I see someone has already downvoted you. And this is almost certainly a dupe. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 2 '14 at 17:18
  • i didn't get it about homework though..@Edwin Ashworth – Yukatan Feb 2 '14 at 18:15
  • and i can't care less about being down or upvoted ..:) @EdwinAshworth – Yukatan Feb 2 '14 at 18:17
  • and 'here' stands for Macmillan Exam Skills for Russia: Grammar and Vocabulary ISBN: 978-02307-2832-5 – Yukatan Feb 2 '14 at 18:19
  • i've never in my whole life done a site search.. i don't think i should be punished for that.. i've gone through all the possible book sources i possess at home.. and hadn't found the answer that's why i asked.. till today i had no ide this site existed.. so.. sorry to irritate hell out of you, @FumbleFingers – Yukatan Feb 2 '14 at 18:57

What a good question! The difference is very subtle. In the infinitive form there's a sense that the person might not be able to do the thing and is being challenged to attempt it. In the other form the sense is more choosing to do something possible - perhaps to another end.

If you have hiccups you can try holding your breath to stop them. Changing the word order: Try to stop them by holding your breath. "Try to hold your breath" is self-contained - no purpose is suggested.

In your example, no 2 seems to come out of the blue - random. No 1 suggests that there is an application, as if someone has said something that prompts the suggestion.

Hope this helps.

| improve this answer | |
  • yep, it's been more than useful, thank u a million:) – Yukatan Feb 2 '14 at 18:22
  • It's not a good question as it's a duplicate. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 2 '14 at 23:15
  • Its duplication doesn't affect its quality. It might not be original, but why does that make it bad? – Colin Feb 9 '14 at 20:37

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