In the accepted answer to the question 'Difference between "try to do" and "try and do"', it is stated that "try and" is an older form than "try to".

Unfortunately, the evidence for this assertion was behind a link that is now broken, and I can't seem to find any convincing evidence myself. What is the reasoning behind this theory?

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    Not sure whether it's an older form, but I'd say that "try and .." and "try to ..." mean the same thing, i.e. "endeavour", though the syntax is different. In "We always try to do our best", "to do our best" is a straightforward infinitival complement of "try". In the idiomatic and slightly less formal "We always try and do our best", "and" is bleached of its normal coordinator meaning and it does not entail that we do our best, as it would in the coordinative "We always try and we do our best".
    – BillJ
    Dec 14, 2016 at 10:16
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    The original target of the broken link can now be found here: groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.usage.english/hQpYXW4Qg8U It's not conclusive about which form is older.
    – JEL
    Dec 14, 2016 at 10:20
  • @JEL - I don't think that is the original target. That discussion is more recent than the answer in the linked question.
    – Jules
    Dec 14, 2016 at 14:22
  • Yes, odd...I didn't find discussion of the ages of the forms in any of the older alt.usage.english threads (1994, 2004) and suspect it might be a date injection glitch. The argument seems to rest on multiple appearances of the 'try and' form in the KJV, and secondarily Milton; OED has apparently abandoned the Milton attestation of the form in favor of a 1686 "J.S." quote, while the first attestation for the 'try to' form is implied (?) in a quote from 1638, followed by the 1697 Dryden.
    – JEL
    Dec 14, 2016 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


This picks it up in books: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=try+and%2Ctry+to&year_start=1600&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Ctry%20and%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Ctry%20to%3B%2Cc0

The linked search shows 1600 to current. And you can edit the search to look at use with different verbs, etc.

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    Both variants are found back to 1601, but "try to" is far more common.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 14, 2016 at 12:51
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    In its current revision, this answer is heavily reliant upon the link to be valuable - which is the exact problem that prompted the question here. Please add more detail to your post, to describe the results you found at the link and how they can be interpreted to provide an answer to this question.
    – Iszi
    Dec 14, 2016 at 18:10

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