Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 09:08:34 -0700
Subject: Re: Variation in "try"-complements?

On Fri, 11 Apr 1997, David A. Johns wrote:

At 10:53 PM 4/10/97 +0000, Bill Spruiell wrote:

However, when I got to the class of verb
constructions that change meaning depending on whether the object is
an infinitive or gerund ("forgot to lock the door" vs. "forgot
locking the door"), I got a surprise. None of my students could
detect any difference between "tried opening the door" and "tried to open
the door", even when I supplied extensive contexts, different
verbals, etc.

I don't get "forgot locking the door" at all -- can't imagine what it means.
With _try_, I sense an aspectual difference that has pragmatic consequences
in certain contexts: "Would you try to open the door" implies that I think
it will be hard, while "Would you try opening the door" suggests that I want
to see if it has some effect, such as cooling the house down. But I don't
feel any difference in "He walked up onto the porch and tried [to open |
opening] the door, but when he found it was locked, turned around and left."

Ditto from Oregon. This describes my usage exactly. I haven't lived
in Oregon all my life (though my growing up was here and in S.
California), but I'm fairly sure I would have noticed any variation from
my own usage in this matter.

Peter McGraw
Linfield College
McMinnville, OR

I don't think I've noticed any unfamiliar gerunds since being in Georgia,
although I may have lost them in the sea of unexpected progressives ("I'm
needing a new notebook," etc.). I'll have to listen.

David Johns
Waycross College
Waycross, GA
(originally from real Yankee country, though not a real Yankee myself, since
my family hadn't lived there for umpteen generations. And weren't farmers.
But we did eat "rat cheese" with apple pie.)