Grammar

It’s ‘Try To,’ Not ‘Try And’

One of the biggest pet peeves for those of us who edit others’ writings is an expression that people never seem to get right: it begins with ‘try and.’

Have you ever heard someone say they were going to “try and do” something?

In the copyediting portion of my duties, I see it all the time.

Someone says they will “try and pay all of their bills” or they will “try and repair their car.”

Moments like that make me think of little Yoda, the mythical Jedi Master from the Star Wars franchise. In Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, we first meet the old master on the planet Dagobah. Our hero, Luke Skywalker, has crashed his X-Wing fighter into a swamp and Yoda encourages him to use “the Force” to raise the ship. Flustered, Luke replies, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.”

“No! Try not!” he responds in his unusual speech pattern. “Do or do not. There is no try!”

There are moments when I picture Yoda telling a writer, “No! ‘Try to’ or ‘try not to.’ There is no ‘and.’”

Banish ‘try and’ from your writing.

This is a hard one because it has become such a common phrase that people use it without thinking about it.

In my earlier examples, someone would try to pay all of their bills or try to repair their car.

The easiest way to make clear how wrong the simple little expression is would be to replace the word try with the word attempt.

You wouldn’t attempt and pay your bills. That doesn’t even begin to make sense.

With that example in mind, I hope the next time you encounter the construction “try and,” you’ll immediately recognize not only how annoying it is, but also the single word substitution that makes everything right with at least that particular sentence!

What are your biggest grammatical pet peeves?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.