I tried catching the horse but without success Is this sentence correct? Why ?

  • Usually we use the -ing construction in a situation like we were constantly hungry; we tried eating the gophers but they just made us sick. In other words we use it when we did something successfully but it did not lead to the desired result. We use the infinitival construction when we weren't successful at all, so your sentence should be I tried to catch the horse but without success.
    – user339660
    Apr 1, 2019 at 15:32
  • 1
    It's complicated. Try is a grammar verb, mostly used to talk about other verbs, so it's got attachments available for both gerunds and infinitives. The two constructions are both grammatical, but they can have a pragmatic difference under some circumstances. Apr 1, 2019 at 15:35
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of "Try to save" or "try saving" Apr 3, 2019 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


It might be correct (depending on the context), but there's a subtle difference in meaning between the two forms.

The -ing construction usually implies:

  • experimenting (Yesterday, I tried jogging to work for the first time)
  • searching for or suggesting new solutions to a problem (If the charging icon doesn't show up on your phone, try using a different cable)

Therefore, your sentence would mean: I had this idea that catching the horse could work, but I tried it and it didn't.

The version with the infinitive does not have the above connotations, it would simply mean: I made an effort at catching the horse, but failed in the end.

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