Gerundive: Try getting some rest.

Infinitive: Try to get some rest.

My textbook says that the former means "Attempt to get some rest" while the latter means to "try getting some rest as a possible solution to the problem".

They feel very familiar and I find them indistinguishable if I were to see them in a text.

Thus, I have the following questions:

  1. Can they be used interchangeably, or is one more grammatically correct than the other?
  2. If so, why does being gerundive or infinitive impart a different meaning to the two phrases?
  3. What grammatical functions do gerunds and infinitives play other than changing the function of a verb to a noun, adjective, or adverb?
  • They are both correct but have different meanings. There is no "functional change", as you put it, so I don't understand your question 3.
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 9:11
  • Note that the gerund-participial is not functioning as or like a noun -- that is simply nonsense. "Try" is a catenative verb and the gerund-participial clause "getting some rest" is its catenative complement. "Noun" has no relevance here.
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 9:18
  • The default pragmatic sense of both is You need to rest. In spite of all the pressures you're experiencing. The first could be a suggestion of a suitable strategem (You've tried A, B, drinking lots of coffee ... now try this.) Perhaps in 10% of cases. Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 15:06
  • There's a pragmatic difference between the constructions. Try to V has a Gricean implicature attached. Try V-ing doesn't. Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 16:02
  • No: the default pragmatic sense of both is not "You need to rest". It is for "try" + infinitival, but there's no such implicature with "try" + gerund-participial. It may simply be suggesting an alternative to some other 'remedy' for some ailment, perhaps.
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 19:29

3 Answers 3


[1] Try [getting some rest].

[2] Try [to get some rest].

There is a difference in meaning.

[1] means "test the effectiveness of", while [2] means "endeavour".

Both clauses are functioning as complement of "try".


I would say it was the other way round!

The infinitive (the latter) means 'Attempt to do it'. You might advise someone recovering from an illness to try to get some rest because it would help them.

The gerund[ive] functions like a noun. As your textbook says, 'getting some rest' is suggested as a possible solution to a problem (such as not being able to think clearly).

Neither is 'more correct' than the other, but there is this slight difference in meaning.


It's all a matter of "point of view" from the speaker.

"getting" is thematic. "-ing" is about an activity already experienced (in the past). "-ing" is looking backwards, so to speak ;)

"to get" is rhematic. "to" is about a destination, about something to be experienced (in the future). "to" is looking forward ;)

  • 1
    In Try getting some rest, "try" means 'test the effectiveness of', while in Try to get some rest, it means "endeavour".
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 19:13

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