He objected to the AND, feeling that it should be a TO, and asked for my opinion. I had never given this subject a thought and now that I did, I felt that they both sounded fine and that I’ve probably been using them interchangeable since I was a wee lad. But here’s what the big boys had to say on the subject:<2006 “"It would be a mistake to try AND predict the outcome and I won't try to do so," said Microsoft lawyer Brad Smith.”—‘BBCNEWS,’ 28 April, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4953682.stm)>
American Heritage Dictionary
TRY AND – Usage Note: The phrase try and is commonly used as a substitute for try to, as in Could you try and make less noise? A number of grammarians have labeled the construction incorrect. To be sure, the usage is associated with informal style and strikes an inappropriately conversational note in formal writing. Sixty-five percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use in writing of the sentence Why don't you try and see if you can work the problem out between yourselves?
Garner’s Modern American Usage
TRY AND is in American English, a ‘casualism’ for try to—e.g.: “Mr. Kemp, who seemed intent on slowing his normally rapid speaking pace, accused the Administration of ‘demagoguery’ in using ‘fear’ to try and [read try to] panic older voters with charges that Republicans endanger the health of the Medicare program.”—‘New York Times,’ 10 October. In British English, however, try and is a standard idiom.
And from Britain we have Burchfield’s update of Fowler’s 1926 Dictionary of Modern English Usage which goes into considerable depth on this one.
The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage by Burchfield (1998)
TRY AND, TRY TO: Arguments continue to rage about the validity of try and followed by an infinitive instead of try to, ‘To be used only in informal contexts,’ ‘grammatically wrong’ are among the verdicts of some writers on English usage. Fowler’s judgment in 1926 was much more lenient. After briefly setting out the fact he concluded: ‘try and is an idiom that should not be discountenanced, but used when it comes natural.’ [[hmm. Not ‘naturally?]]. He also made out a sort of case for the semantic distinctiveness of try and constructions. In 1983 a Scandinavian scholar, Age Lind, examined a group of fifty modern English novels of the period 1960-70 and found that try to was likely to occur in certain syntactic conditions, try and in others, and that in some circumstances the choice seemed not to be governed by any particular reason. ‘If a subtle semantic distinction exists it does not seem to be observed,’ he concluded.
Over the last few years I have gathered a wide range of evidence, with the following results. Standard examples of try to occurred in many types of constructions: (preceded by an auxiliary verb) I think we should try to help him as a family—I. Murdoch, 1983; (preceded by the infinitive marker to) To try to forget is to try to conceal—T. S. Eliot, 1950; Mr. Stratton’s moods would always be a mystery, so much so that he had ceased to try to fathom them—P. Carey, 1988 (Aust.); (preceded by an adverb) I always try to travel light [[hmm. Some do say it can be used as an adverb]]—R. Elms, 1988; (separated from the infinitive it governs) He’s gone his own way, I go mine, or try to—K. Page, 1989. Parallel examples of try and for all but that last type are not difficult to find: (preceded by an auxiliary verb) We must try and find him at once—J. R. R. Tolkien, 1954; I will try and answer any question you have—S. Hodkey, 1981 (University of Oxford Lecture); (preceded by the infinitive marker to) he used to try and draw Dr. De Wet out—M. du Plessis, 1983 (Afra.); (preceded by an adverb) Frankly, even to try and make somebody happy is a gross and farcical mistake—Simon Mason, 1990.
Some other examples are less easy to classify: he glanced at her face to try and see if she was mollified—P. P. Read, 1986; I try to work on the assumption that they are all as smart as I am—Clive James, 1987 (Aust.); Let me try and set down the opposing points of view—Julian Barnes, 1991. It should be noted that some of the examples of try and are drawn from the informal atmosphere of a lecture room (James, 1987) a newspaper interview, or from non-British sources. Try and can also occur idiomatically in the imperative in such sentences as Don’t try and frighten me, which, as it happens, is to be found in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1847).
It is only when one turns to other parts of the verb (i.e. tries, tried, trying) the a gulf between the two expressions opens up. Try to substitute tries and (etc.) for tries to (etc.) in the following examples, and the impossibility of it all becomes apparent: He tries to centre his mind on that sound—C. K. Stead, 1984 (NZ); I . . . pace around and tried to absorb all the details—A. Brookner, 1986; Einar tried to coach us in semaphore signals—G. Keillor, 1986 (US); as if trying to guess what her answer should be—P. P. read, 1986.
Try and gains a small amount of additional currency, perhaps, from the use of and to connect two verbs ‘the latter of which would logically be in the infinitive’ (as the OED expresses it). The commonest of such verbs are come (e.g. You come and see us sometimes, won’t you?) and go (e.g. Do go and thank him). These two verbs, however, have no past or present tense restrictions. Clearly it is idiomatic to say You came and saw me yesterday and He went and thanked him last week. So the parallel with try and is far from exact.
Ken G – April 30, 2006