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  1. Senior Member
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    #1

    try

    Hi there,
    What is the difference between 'try to do something' and 'try doing something'?
    tks
    pete

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    #2

    Re: try

    Quote Originally Posted by peter123 View Post
    Hi there,
    What is the difference between 'try to do something' and 'try doing something'?
    tks
    pete
    Not much. But "try to do something" seems more general or abstract, and "try doing something" more specific. "Try doing something" is less formal.

    Try to be happy, whatever you do.
    Why are you always so angry? Try being happy for a change.

    I have always tried to finish everything on time.
    If you don't want to be fired, try finishing your assigments on time!

    In our research, we tried to apply the theories of Bohr, Pasteur, and Schumacher. When the rats continued to die, we tried applying* electricity to their cages 15 minutes prior to feeding.

    *In something this formal, probably "attempted the application of".

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: try

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    Not much. ...
    "Try + <gerund>" conveys the sense of experimentation.

    Try to be kind -> Command to adopt a certain kind of behaviour.
    Try being kind -> Suggestion of an experiment in a certain kind of behaviour.

    There's a clear and significant difference.

    b

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    #4

    Re: try

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    "Try + <gerund>" conveys the sense of experimentation.

    Try to be kind -> Command to adopt a certain kind of behaviour.
    Try being kind -> Suggestion of an experiment in a certain kind of behaviour.

    There's a clear and significant difference.

    b
    Thank you. The "sense of experimentation" is a much better way of putting it than my general/specific distinction.

    A more literary way to say "not much" would be "the distinction is a fine one". I should have added, "But they are indeed different". With all due respect, everyone's ear may define "clear and significant" differently. Is the distinction between general behaviour and a particular method or action really as strong everywhere as it is in "try being/to be kind", especially once "try" is replaced by other verbs, but the question of gerund or infinitive remains?
    Last edited by abaka; 17-Jan-2009 at 22:37.

  3. RonBee's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: try

    Quote Originally Posted by peter123 View Post
    Hi there,
    What is the difference between 'try to do something' and 'try doing something'?
    If we try to do something we make an effort to do something. If we try doing something we actually do it as a sort of experiment (as BobK suggested).


  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: try

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    Thank you. The "sense of experimentation" is a much better way of putting it than my general/specific distinction.

    A more literary way to say "not much" would be "the distinction is a fine one". I should have added, "But they are indeed different". With all due respect, everyone's ear may define "clear and significant" differently. Is the distinction between general behaviour and a particular method or action really as strong everywhere as it is in "try being/to be kind", especially once "try" is replaced by other verbs, but the question of gerund or infinitive remains?
    I should try to be kind. Sorry.

    b

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