Try, try again
A reader, one whom I have already agitated by my laxity over could care less, inquires, with some trepidation, about try and:
... I noticed that Geoffrey Pullum of the Language Log ... used the phrase "try and" instead of "try to" in front of the verb rectify. I would be interested in your take on try and versus try to in front of verbs. ...
I'm not entirely a grammar pedant ... but this particular idiom bothers me more than most. Here is my take on it: using and instead of to effectively breaks the verb to which try is attached. Let's use jump as a verb. In the phrase "try to jump" we have two chunks, try (a verb) and to jump (infinitive form of jump). If we rephrase it as "try and jump" we have turned an infinitive that is modified by try into two separate verbs (I'm going to try and I'm going to jump).
Bryan Garner calls try and a casualism but notes that it is ubiquitous. It certainly is in speech and has become increasingly common in writing.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage points out that a number of commentators on usage have found nothing in particular the matter with it. One was H.W. Fowler, who observed that though it was colloquial, it “has a shade of meaning that justifies its existence; in exhortations it implies encouragement—the effort will succeed; in promises it implies assurance—the effort shall succeed. It is an idiom that should be not discountenanced, but used when it comes natural.”
Merriam-Webster’s points out that the idiom has been common in English since the sixteenth century and has been increasingly common in print for a century and a half, with a full page of citations. The basis for disparaging it, the entry says, is “usually the notion that try is to be followed by the infinitive combined with the mistaken assumption that an infinitive requires to.”
So here you have one more concern you can cross off your list.