try+gerund/infinitive (Difference in meaning)



  1. I tried to open the door.

  2. I tried opening the door

We can use both infinitive and gerund with verb "try" as used in above sentences. Does it change the meaning of the sentence if use gerund or infinitive?.(here i don't know if the meaning of sentences is changed.)

The same confusion arise in these two sentences. 1.I stopped seeing him. 2. I stopped to see him.(But in case of these two sentence i know the meaning is changed but don't know exactly what the change is).


Posted 2014-12-28T12:31:08.087

Reputation: 1 625



The difference in your first pair, with try, is addressed here.

  • Try to VERB means “attempt to accomplish the action of VERB”.

    I tried to open the door = I attempted to cause the door to become open.

    If the attempt succeeds, the action of VERB is accomplished: the door is open. If the attempt fails, the action is not accomplished: the door is still closed.

  • Try VERBing means “perform the action of VERB to find out if it will accomplish some other purpose”.

    I wanted to clear the smoke from the room, so I tried opening the door = I opened the door in order to clear the smoke from the room.

    The action of VERB is presumed to be accomplished. If the attempt succeeds, the purpose is accomplished: the smoke is cleared. if the attempt fails, the action is accomplished but the purpose is not: although the door is open, the smoke remains.

In both of these, the clause with VERB is the complement of TRY. This is not the case with STOP: STOP only takes gerund complements. However, it may take an infinitival adjunct describing the reason for stopping:

I stopped seeing him = I ceased to see him; I no longer saw him.

I stopped to see him = I stopped in order to see him; I ceased doing what I was doing or I made a stop in my trip so that I might see him.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2014-12-28T12:31:08.087

Reputation: 176 469


  • Trying opening the door is "trying a technique" intending to try a "process" that might succeed.
  • Trying to open is performing an "action" regardless of any previous try.

I tried to kill the wolf but it escaped. Later, I tried poisoning it, trapping it and shooting it with a gun but nothing worked.

Shall I try calling the police / to call the police? Choose the correct answer now ;)

Jamal Khaled Abbas Qaddomi

Posted 2014-12-28T12:31:08.087

Reputation: 11

It should be "Shall I try to call the police? Am I right? – starun008 – 2015-05-20T07:15:31.980