Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Try And or Try To?

The Quick Answer
Should you write try and or try to?

The terms try and and try to are usually interchangeable. Be aware though that try and is considered more informal than try to, so it is safer to use try to in formal writing.

Try And [Do Something] or Try To [Do Something]?

Many writers question their natural inclination to use try and instead of try to. In fact, both versions are acceptable. If you're writing a formal document and you're the type of person who likes to play it safe, then opt for try to.

The term try and is more colloquial and is even described as an idiom. From a logic perspective, it is difficult to make a case for try and being correct, but colloquialisms (and idioms) do not need defending on grounds of logic.

Therefore, even though some grammarians will claim try and is incorrect, it is best described as more informal than try to. As a result, try and is more suited to speaking than writing.

A Sense of Positivity around Try And

As try and is more informal and more natural sounding, it carries a sense of positivity that try to lacks. (You can think of them like this: Try and is your cool guitar-playing art teacher while try to is your straight-laced poker-faced headmistress.)

This means that try and [do something] carries a subtle (in fact, barely discernible) message of luck, success, or assurance. Try to [do something] is more neutral. This is not a well-recognized distinction between the two terms, but it is touched upon by most of the leading grammar references. So, if this subtle sense of positivity and the natural flow of text afforded by try and outweigh the risk that some grammarians might sneer at you, then go for try and. If you don't want to take this risk or you need to be formal, use try to.

When Try To and Try And Are Not Interchangeable

Of course, there are times when the words try and and sit side by side just like any other two words could. For example:
  • Simon will try and fail.
  • (Simon will attempt the task, but he will fail it.)
    (This is a list of two verbs: to try and to fail.)
On this occasion, you cannot substitute try and with try to without changing the meaning. For example:
  • Simon will try to fail.
  • (Simon will deliberately not try very hard.)