This Week’s Grammar Pet Peeve: “Try And”

Syllabus Translation MontrealIt’s the little things that make copyeditors grit their teeth and pull out their hair, such as today’s gripe: the “try and” construct. The worst part is that I find myself saying it all the time! It has somehow slipped into my vernacular and slips out everywhere, like a bad case of the likes.

The “try and” idiom runs rampant in daily usage, which is completely fine in spoken English, colloquial fiction, dialogue, and the like. But in most other writing, that nasty expression has to go because it makes no sense.

“Try to” vs. “try and”—what’s the diff?

I’m going to try to finish this project today.

Here, the verb “try” is linked to the verb “finish” by the preposition “to,” showing a connection between the two actions.

I’m going to try and finish this project today.

Here, the verb “try” is separated from the verb “finish” by the conjunction “and,” implying that there are two distinct actions occurring—trying and finishing—but the two actions are not connected.

This is definitely something we should all try and stop using. 

What’s your biggest language pet peeve?

© EdwardSamuel –


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