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Squeeze in

Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:44 pm
by Stevenloan
- Hi everyone! I'm trying to take a picture of 16 people, but I want to tell them to stand closely to each other so that everyone's faces will show up in the picture. Which of the following two imperative sentences is more suitable?

1. Everyone, try to squeeze in.
2. Everyone, try to stand as closely as possible.

Thanks a lot!

StevenLoan

Re: Squeeze in

Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:35 pm
by Erik_Kowal
Both those are fine.

You could also say "Everyone, {try to / try and} stand as {close / close together} {as possible / as you can}.

(One of the quirks of English is that the infinitive form "try to" can often be replaced by "try and". Don't ask me why.)

Re: Squeeze in

Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:58 pm
by trolley
In North America, you might also hear "scooch".
"Everyone, scooch in (or scooch together).

Re: Squeeze in

Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:40 pm
by Bobinwales
There is a lovely Welsh word, "Cwtch" ('w' is a vowel in Welsh).
It can mean an enclosed space (the cupboard under the stairs for instance), or a cuddle. But if we were trying to get everyone into a photograph we might well say, "Cwtch up everyone".

Re: Squeeze in

Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:47 pm
by Phil White
Erik_Kowal wrote:
Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:35 pm
(One of the quirks of English is that the infinitive form "try to" can often be replaced by "try and". Don't ask me why.)
This is one of the things that upset a lot of so-called grammarians. "Try and" is a very well established idiomatic usage, and there is no problem with using it in speech or informal writing. It is probably best avoided in formal writing - not because it is in any way wrong, but simply because some self-important pain-in-the-arse will get upset by it, and it is not usually worth having the argument.

Grammatically, you need to be a little careful. Unlike "try to", "try and" cannot be inflected for tense, person and number.

The following three sentences are wrong:
  • *He tried and finish his work before he went home.
  • *She always tries and cycle to work to keep fit.
  • *I am trying and lose weight.
However, if the "try" is not inflected, "try and" can be used. This covers the infinitive, the imperative, the uninflected simple present tense, the "will" future and other non-finite constructions. Here are some examples:
  • Can you help me to try and move this boulder?
  • Try and stay sober tonight!
  • I always try and keep my room tidy.
  • I'll try and be back by Saturday.
Even for an idiom, this is very strange grammatical behaviour, but that's the way it is! In other words, beware of the grammatical guidance you may read online! The use of "try and" is not restricted to the imperative and infinitive forms, but to all uninflected forms of "try", in particular the uninflected simple present (i.e. all forms except the third person singular).

Ed.: I have just gone through all the verbs I can think of that are followed by a to-infinitive ("hope to", "love to", etc.) and chased up a few lists and can find no other verb that behaves in this way, so it truly is an idiomatic usage.

Re: Squeeze in

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:36 am
by BonnieL
I must be a "so-called grammarian" - "try and" sets my teeth on edge. :x

Re: Squeeze in

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 5:10 am
by Stevenloan
Erik, trolley, Bob, Phil White and BonnieL : Thank you all very very much for your answers.

StevenLoan