TRY - Gerund or infinitive?

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Offline nusrat-diu

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TRY - Gerund or infinitive?
« on: March 10, 2012, 12:31:07 PM »
Most verbs in English always take either the gerund or the infinitive. You need to learn which one is correct, and then always use that form. Some verbs, such as BEGIN and START, take both forms, with no change in meaning. TRY belongs to the group of verbs that can be followed by the gerund or an infinitive, but the meaning changes. You need to make sure you use the correct structure or you will end up saying something that you do not mean! Take a look at these examples:


1. I tried to stop him from leaving but it was too late. Now we don’t know where he is! (note: it was impossible to stop him from leaving.)

2. Could you please try to open this jar for me? I can’t unscrew the lid. (note: it is difficult to unscrew the lid of the jar.)

3. He always tries to be as punctual as possible, but sometimes he is still late. (note: he finds it difficult to be punctual.)


4. I have decided to try using less salt on my food, as it is healthier. (note: maybe it will taste good with less salt.)

5. As you never have time for breakfast, perhaps you should try getting up earlier in the morning. (note: perhaps getting up earlier would be a better idea.)

6. Have you ever tried snowboarding? I think you would love it! (note: snowboarding is something that you might enjoy.)

As you can see, in sentences 1-3 TRY is followed by the INFINITIVE (to stop, to open and to be). In these first three sentences, the verb in the infinitive was difficult or impossible to achieve.

In sentences 4-6, TRY is followed by the GERUND (using, getting up and snowboarding). In these second three sentences, the verb in the gerund is something to experiment with, perhaps to see if you like it or if it will have a better result.

Let’s take a look at a longer example:


7. While I was trying to fix my computer, I tried uninstalling the software and then reloading it, but it did not make any difference. Then I decided to try replacing the keyboard, but when I tried to remove it, I could not find the right sized tool.

In this short paragraph, the verbs in the infinitive (to fix, to remove) are difficult or impossible, and the verbs in the gerund (uninstalling, reloading, replacing) were things that I did so that I could get a better result.
Nusrat Jahan
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Daffodil International University