Copy editing conundrum 1: “try to” vs. “try and”

Today, I’m introducing the pilot episode of what I hope to make an irregular feature on this blog . . .

Copy Editing Conundrums


At work today I encountered a conundrum: the encroachment with seeming frequency of the bugaboo “try and” vs. “try to”. The first encounter wasgrammar in a sentence I was editing. The next almost caused me to spit out my lunchtime sandwich.

I was reading along in what otherwise seems a fine book, Kelly L. Stone’s Living Write: The Secret to Inviting Your Craft Into Your Daily Life, (Ms. Stone, please don’t hate me; I am a copy editor, so it’s perfectly natural) when I stumbled upon this sentence:

Setting herself up to try and achieve the impossible was, at first, a trouble spot for Amber Leigh Williams, author of Denied Origin.

My immediate desire was to change “try and” to “try to”. Alas, I couldn’t edit this error apparent! By Crom! No hack-n-slash fun for me. Saddened, I closed the book, and thought about writing this very blog post you have before you.

I gnawed on this conundrum for some time, and a-googling I went. Had the world gone mad? Had “try and” officially seeped into the language? I sought experts. OK, one expert—Grammar Girl. Here’s what she has to say about it (click “it” to follow the link).

So, copy editors, what is your opinion? “Try to” or “try and”?





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