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Unit 2: English In A Minute
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Session 1

Welcome to English In A Minute. Give us a minute and we'll give you a hot tip about English. Grammar, vocabulary... there's so much to learn! And all taught by your favourite BBC Learning English staff!

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Try + -ing or to + verb

James is going to explain how to use try + -ing or to + verb! Give us 60 seconds and we'll give you the English.

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James
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to English In A Minute. I'm James and today we're going to look at the verb try.

It can be a little bit tricky to use this verb, because it changes its meaning depending on whether you use an -ing verb or a verb with to. So, let's take a look at some examples.

I tried baking a cake. I tried to bake a cake. These two sentences are almost exactly the same but their meaning is a little bit different.

I tried baking a cake. When we use try with an -ing, all we're saying is that we attempted to do something. It could be a new experience - something that you haven't done before.

I tried to bake a cake. When we use try with a verb and to, we're saying that a task is quite difficult to complete, or that we've failed.

If you'd like to try learning more English, why not go to our Facebook page, or to the website? Bye, everyone.

Verb Patterns

In English, when two verbs are used together, the first verb dictates which form the second verb should take regardless of the tense of the first verb or the subject of the sentence.

Some verbs can have more than one corresponding verb pattern and this can change the meaning of the second verb.

Try is like this - its two verb patterns have different meanings.

+ING
When we use try + -ing, all we're saying is that we attempted to do something.

  • I tried baking a cake
  • They tried making sushi for the first time yesterday.

Full infinitive
When we use try + to + verb, we're saying that a task is quite difficult to complete, or that we've failed.

  • I tried to bake a cake.
  • I tried to call for help, but no one could hear me.

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