Sunday, January 29, 2012

Grammar Daze - Try To

I'm done with my final read-through of Rising Book 1! DONNNNNE!!! I'm ridiculously relieved. Right now, my brain is something like this:

Now that I've done all this editing, I'll leave you with this grammar tip:

Do not "try and" do anything in your writing; "try to" do it instead.

I see this all the time in published books, too. "Try and" is common in colloquial speech, and some people use it in informal writing, but it's one of those things shouldn't be in formal writing; it makes me want to take a red pen to paper when I read it.

For example, your mother wants you to check the mail, and you say I will try and check the mail. - This is incorrect. What is said in this sentence is that you will both try and you will check the mail.

I will try to check the mail - This is correct. You're saying you're going to try to do it.

He will try and catch the vampire orangutan. - Again, what is said here is that he will try to catch the orangutan and he will catch it. Essentially, "He's going to try, and he's going to catch it." He's going to try to do it, and he's definitely going to catch it.

What you want is: He will try to catch the vampire orangutan. - In other words, he's going to try to do the task. Whether or not he succeeds is up in the air.

Saying things like: Try, and you will succeed is correct, because you're telling someone that if they try, they will succeed.

Happy writing!


  1. Grammar lesson posts always tell me that I've stumbled onto a kindred spirit.

  2. I'm guilty of this one. Didn't even really know it, ever, until Anna corrected about three incidents in her last editing pass of my manuscript.

    I'm going to try and drop the habit. ;-)

    Except within dialogue, depending on the character. But that goes for any grammar faux pax, really.

  3. My mother, actually, hated this one so much that she never let my sister and me use it in speech or in writing. Plenty of other bad colloquial grammatical habits I've picked up (though thankfully my biggest one, the tendency to drop the "g" from "ing" words ("I'm goin' to be sittin' down in a bit!") does not translate easily to paper), but not that one.

    There are a few colloquialisms that are so natural to me I don't even realize I'm writing them - this is where betas, especially betas from another region or country, are so helpful!

  4. thanks for that and congrats!

    and even better, in the words of yoda, "Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try." same with seem, start, and begin.

    make characters do!

  5. I think I use 'try to.' Now I'll have to look!

  6. Great tip. One to add to the list.

  7. Hooray! I actually knew this one!

    I agree with you about seeing it in published writing. It makes me twitch. ;)

    -Jeana (stupid thing won't accept my openID)

  8. Great tip and congrats! Darn primate vamps always causing trouble.

  9. @Faith King: The only way I stopped writing this was by breaking myself of the habit of saying it. ;)

  10. We all have our favorite grammar peeves.

    Mine is this: "There's something about you and I."


    Kill me now.

    When used in the object sense, it is you and ME.

    If you can substitute "us" it is "you and me."

    Songs do this all the time. I wonder if Sting is the only singer/writer who took a grammar class (he was an English teacher, and his songs were always PERFECT, at least as I recall).

    I would much rather someone misuse "me and you," instead of when they try and sound smart by inserting "you and I" into every instance of a dual-subject occurrence.

    Haha. I said, "try and..."

    Try and stop me! ;)

    - Eric

  11. Congratulations on finishing.

    Ooo, I don't know if I do this one or not. I'm going to have to try to find these errors the next time I edit. Thanks for the tip!

  12. Thanks for these tips! I'll try to remember them. :)
    Catherine Denton


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!