What is the difference between try to do and try and do?

To me (non-native speaker), asking someone try and do this seems a bit rude. It's like saying you can try all you want but this must be done: try and fail is not an option. However, asking someone try to do this means I am asking you to try: success is bonus, failure is OK.


13 Answers 13


"Try and" has largely been relegated to colloquial use, and "try to" is generally considered the correct form. They are basically synonymous. "Try and" is not really more rude, in my opinion. According to alt.usage.english, "try and" is probably older than "try to," and, when used, implies success or failure of whatever action is being attempted.

As far as speech goes though, they're the same thing. If you're writing, "try and" is generally discouraged.

  • Well detailed answer. +1
    – VonC
    Aug 11, 2010 at 18:36
  • 1
    +1 for the AUE FAQ. Note that (according to the link) although some commentators hold they are synonymous, everyone agrees "try and" is more colloquial, and Fowler says "try and" is "almost confined to exhortations and promises" — thus it does seem to imply or expect success (at least to Fowler). Aug 11, 2010 at 19:52
  • I'm surprised to learn that "try and" is older. I had assumed that the "to" was part of an infinitive. "I will try to play basketball" easily switches to a gerund: "I will try playing basketball." "Try and" always sounds like two actions. "I will both try and play basketball." Aug 11, 2010 at 21:38
  • A few years ago I had to move to a Spanish speaking country, consequently having to learn to speak Spanish. I remember learning that "try and (insert verb)" doesn't translate in Spanish, and that the correct pronunciation is "try to (insert verb)." After I'd moved back to America, it made me cringe every time I'd hear someone say "I have to try and (do whatever)..."
    – Jagd
    Aug 11, 2010 at 23:19
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    Looking through Google books, there are lots of uses of "try to" before 1820, but relatively few uses of "try and" where "try" does not mean "hold a trial for", as in "we will try and punish him." May 25, 2011 at 21:30

Try and is a paraphrase of try to, typically used in informal promises and instructions, as in: I’ll try and keep in touch with her [and] Try and come soon. It expresses a supportive attitude, as Fowler (1926) noticed, and has a particular interpersonal role to play, hence its relatively high frequency in conversation.

From the article in ‘The Cambridge Guide to English Usage’


"Try and...", while accepted in everyday usage, always sounds wrong to me, as if the speaker is commanding you to do two things: try something unspecified, and then do this other thing.

  • That's interesting. To me (a Brit) it never seemed odd at all, until yesterday when I typed it in an email. Seeing my words made me question a phrase I must have spoken hundreds/thousands of times in my life. Apr 11, 2019 at 22:43

"Try and do" is the form of "try to do" in my native dialect (centered in Pittsburgh, maybe), and probably wouldn't sound strange to any American or Canadian. A related construction is "needs done" instead of "needs to be done", which is more rare outside that dialect.

  • How are they related?
    – Casey
    Jul 28, 2014 at 18:44
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    Brit here - "try and" is extremely common among young people in the UK too.
    – GMA
    Nov 29, 2014 at 17:42

I believe "try and do" is more of an oral expression, but has the same meaning as "try to do".
In writing, I would always use "try to do".

  • +1 I often say 'try and' (just through habit, I guess) but I would never think to write it.
    – CJM
    Dec 15, 2010 at 15:17
  • @ VonC. _I believe try and do is more of an oral . . . , but it has the same meaning as . . . . _ I thought you might want to know how to say this correctly in English.
    – Babs
    Jan 29, 2014 at 17:46
  • @ VonC. de rien.
    – Babs
    Jan 29, 2014 at 18:56

When in doubt, remember the words of the great orator, Bart Simpson:

"I can't promise I'll try, but I'll try to try."

On my suggestion, now enshrined in the Guardian style guide:

try to
never "try and". As Bart Simpson put it: "I can't promise I'll try, but I'll try to try"

  • Your suggestion was it? I just called Wintour and Watt out for breaking the rule. I should have linked back to this answer!
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jan 30, 2012 at 18:19
  • The rule was already in the guide, I suggested the Bart quote :)
    – Hugo
    Jan 30, 2012 at 21:25

There is no difference. "Try to" is the "classic" version -- "try and" has been increasing in usage recently (and is quite the pet peeve of mine), but I've never known an English speaker to see a difference in meaning between the two.


This is really strange, in Norwegian it's a lot of confusion between homphones "og" (meaning and) and "å" (equivalent to the word to) that are pronounced the same (the g is silent, and o is sometimes the same sound as å, which is approximately the same sound as the vowel in "wall"). This is not surprising, but I've noticed the same confusion occur in related languages like English where it's not homophones.

Perhaps it's something about the grammar of the Germanic languages that causes this difference to be hard to understand?

(There could be a slight intentional difference in meaning between "try to" and "try and" but usually it seems like a mistake)


The use of "try and" seems to me to be an effort to build optimism into the language. If one actually is unsure of success one would appropriately say, "I will try to succeed." However, If there is no doubt that success will occur what need is there to insert "try and" into the phrase when then one could simply say, "I will succeed."


"Try and do" is regarded as a colloquial and ungrammatical version of "try to do", but is really grammatical if you accept that it expresses a slightly different meaning technically. "Try and do" seems to imply that you will try, but that you WILL do something, while "try to do" doesn't seem to express any certainty about the outcome of your trying. That said, people generally use "try and do" to mean "try to do", and you can save it from being labeled ungrammatical by calling it idiomatic.


On way to see that try and instead of try to is wrong is to say it in the past tense. Yesterday, I tried to do something vs yesterday, I tried and do something. Future tense, I will try to do something tomorrow vs I will try and do something tomorrow.

  • 1
    May I suggest that you rewrite the first phrase (including fixing the two typos): One way of seeing that try and do instead of try to is wrong, is to say it in the past tense. [use italics, i.e. single asterisk before and after the expression; or quote marks to highlight the words]
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 6, 2014 at 14:49

When used correctly, the conjunction "and" in "try and" means there are two distinct thoughts. If there is a continuous thought, always use "try to".

For example, in football a runner would try to score. He may or may not succeed. If you say "try and score" you are separating the try from the score. He is going to try and he is going to score. Since scoring is directly connected to what he is trying to do, the only correct way to say it or write it is "try to". They do not have the same meaning though some people use them as having the same meaning. You can prove this by using other tenses of try.

On that play the runner tried and score.

Obviously that does not work. It should be written as tried to.

The runner tried to score on that play.


The runner was trying to score.

Just because many people get it wrong does not make it right. Consider these two sentences:

The inventor will try to succeed in making his project work.


The inventor will try and succeed in making his project work.

They both could be correctly used but one means he may succeed while the other means he will try and he will succeed.


It's quite straightforward really and nothing to do with the verb 'try'! In the examples given the imperative form of the verb 'to try' is always followed by a second verb, which is non-finite in form; e.g. try to come if you can, try to be early as it gets filled up quickly, etc. Since the finite form of the verb is always to be, to have, to come etc. then the correct word to use must be 'to' rather than 'and'.

However, when we speak we usually don't observe such niceties and so 'try and' is commonly heard. However, when we write we should try to use the correct grammatical construction!

  • Though I prefer 'try to do/be/go/see ...' myself, it does appear from the reference given in kitukwfyer's (accepted) answer that 'try and ...' has a superior pedigree to that of 'try to ...'. If you're going to suggest that the 'try to' is preferable, you should add corroborative evidence rather than just offer what appears to be a personal opinion. Feb 10, 2015 at 20:17
  • I think I've offered a rational explanation already! Feb 11, 2015 at 19:33
  • Hearsay evidence. Jan 26, 2018 at 9:11

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