To try

25 05 2012

According to, the first two definitions for the word “try” are as follows:

verb (used with object)

1.  to attempt to do or accomplish

2.  to test the effect or result of (often followed by out)

We’re told when we’re learning about verbs and parts of the English language, that verbs are “action words”, and many, if not all of them, imply some sort of physical action.  To jump, to run, to hide, to phone, to scream.  You can see people doing these things.

The verb “try” is different in that it not only uses an object (since you can’t really picture someone “trying” on its own), but that, as I have recently dwelled upon, it is a verb that also implies a mental investment.

Trying is a physical act, like any of the other verbs.  For example, the phrase, “Sally tried to hug a panda” shows Sally attempting — and in all likelihood, failing — to embrace a panda bear.  But what is also there is that Sally is invested in hugging the bear.  Excluding the possibilty that she was drunk, stoned, or just not thinking clearly, her attempt shows she mentally wanted to do it, similar to the mens rea, in Law terminology.  Even if she failed in the physical act of trying to hug the panda, her mens rea, or dedication/investment to her hugging goal, still stands.  And coupled with her mental investment to the goal which is then manifested in the real world through the physical act itself, does it really matter if Sally failed?

Isn’t it enough that she simply tried?



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